Cape Kimberley in Far North QLD is one of our regular monitoring sites. Every three months we collect and record the debris from this tropical hotspot. But never before did we have to face extreme conditions like the ones we had this April. After a paralysing hot clean-up of 38 degrees there in January we asked for cooler temperatures, but forgot to add that we also appreciated dry weather. Consequently, it was not just cool, but also wet. Tropical-flooding-wet. In fact, the clouds dumped so much rain that one of our coordinators got flooded in and could only join the event once the road was passable again. Even more astonishing was that a whopping 59 volunteers simply decided to ignore this “drownpour” and tackled the beach with unprecedented spirit.
Collecting almost as much water as rubbish, newbies and Tangaroa Blue veterans made the most of the situation and picked up a surprisingly low 218kg. Clean-up first timer Kristin Seelig didn’t really know what to expect from the experience, but was absolutely shocked what she found in this apparently so pristine World Heritage Area: “I came here to pick up a few bottles and chips packets, but when you look closer, when you sift through the sand and pumice, you just find hundreds of tiny plastic shards sprinkled over this beach like sesame seeds on a multigrain bread. You would need tweezers to really clean the beach!”
In the end, it is those toxin laden microplastics that are the real threat to the environment. To remove those is an impossible task, but with every bottle that you pick up you prevent another item from degrading into a thousand plastic fragments and leaving behind a pile of plastic dust for eternity.
A massive thank you goes to all our volunteers who battled the elements that day showing what you can achieve if you are passionate. We also thank for the funding from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority through Reef Trust that made this event possible, Under Wraps for preparing a much needed lunch for our shaken helpers and Douglas Shire Council for supporting the event with ferry passes and disposal of the debris at the local landfill.