James Cook University’s Research Towards Action on Plastic Pollution Team Hits the Beach!

On October 20th, James Cook University’s Research Towards Action on Plastic Pollution (RTAPP) internship team travelled to AIMS Beach in Townsville, QLD, to do their first of many beach clean-ups around the area.

Access to the AIMS (Australian Institute of Marine Science) beach is restricted because of GBRMP zoning, and it has few visitors. We believe the rubbish collected from the beach has been washed up onto the beach from the ocean rather than having come from beach users.

Photo left: RTAPP member Katy (right), with volunteer, Sammy (left) picking up rubbish accumulated at the tide mark.

With 12 volunteers in total, nearly three hours were spent picking up rubbish along the 3km shoreline.

As Dr. Mark Hamann, the advisor of RTAPP at James Cook University in Townsville, said, “It was unbelievable the amount of rubbish we found on the beach. For it to be so remote and closed off from the public, and still be collecting this wide variety of rubbish indicates there is an issue with marine debris in North Queensland.”

By the end of the day, 55 kilograms and 2500 pieces of beach debris were collected; nearly 90% was some form of plastic.

The items collected included 1478 pieces of hard plastic (bigger than 5cm), 473 bottle lids, 78 pieces of footwear and 31 lighters. One of the most unusual items found was an unopened can of Korean beer!

RTAPP are hoping to conduct a second beach clean-up on November 18th and plan to continue monitoring the amounts and types of rubbish that are washed up onto the AIMS beach through regular clean-ups of this area.

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