On the 17th to the 20th of February 2015 we were lucky enough to be able to work in some serious clean-up time within the bounds of our Jabalbina Seagrass Sea Country Grant. We chartered the M.V. Monsoon from Port Douglas up to the Bloomfield River where we worked with local rangers as well as crew and Traditional Owners from the My Pathways team.
Our goal was to do three major clean-ups in three days and what this crew achieved I think is phenomenal. Weary Bay, Hope Isles and the Southern half of Cedar Bay was cleaned up in this time and this time of year it was terribly hot and the motivation shown was wonderful.
Weary Bay was not too bad as the wonderful crew from My Pathways do regular clean-ups there but we still found a lot of hidden rubbish and a camp full of it on the back side of the beach. Hope Isles was a big mission. We dropped a crew off at the smaller island to circumnavigate while we took a tender to investigate what was in the mangroves on the Western Island, within minutes we had found a huge rope tangled up and spent a good 15 minutes trying to remove it and we then jumped out onto one of the beaches there. The rubbish was not obvious at first but when we started really looking the job ahead was immense. Not only were there huge tug lines over 50 metres long soaking wet and buried in the sand but there was an enormous amount of tiny plastic shards mixed into the coarse pumice and shell material that makes up the beach.
As we wandered through the island to the other side the job seemed even more daunting. In the end we visited this site three times over the course of two days to get the job done and thank goodness we had some muscle.
Our last job was Cedar Bay. Dropping crews of two off along the beach, we would patrol and pick them up when bags were full or sections completed but along the way we were picking up all the large items of which there were a tremendous amount, from fishing buoys to half a very well built raft, to tyres, fenders and even an oxygen cylinder, all while having to drag it into the water to get it on to the tender.
For some of the crew we had working with us this was their first time on a vessel of this size, for a few of the older crew it was their first time to Hope Isles and their reactions were priceless, I was just glad that we could enable them to experience this adventure. It was however so sad to see their reactions to the amount of rubbish that we were finding. The words like ‘heartbreaking’,’disappointed’ and ‘unbelievable’ were passed around in conversation more than once.
After the trip the feedback that we received was wonderful, everyone had a wonderful time and it was deemed a great success, everyone was keen to do more, so that is what we will do. In fact we have just chartered the M.V. Monsoon for another trip next week where we will be completing the Northern half of Cedar Bay, the notorious pumice bank that is usually full of smaller bits of plastic.
We would like to say a huge thank you to Tangaroa Blue for supplying materials, training and the phenomenal drive of the incredible Heidi Taylor and her assistant Peta Campbell, awesome work ladies, keep it up.