At the beginning of November, an eager team of 18 volunteers, Tangaroa Blue staff and Wavelength Reef Cruises got up at the crack of dawn and headed out for a day-long clean-up of Mangkalba (Cedar Bay) in Ngalba Bulal National Park.
The calm seas made for an easy cruise to the bay, which is situated on the traditional land of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people. It soon became apparent that the seemingly pristine shoreline was covered with piles of marine debris, particularly on the northern end of the beach.
The safety briefing provided by staff focused strongly on awareness around crocodiles, as this was prime breeding season for these incredible creatures. Within seconds of arriving at the southern section of the clean-up area, some croc slides were pointed out and the team proceeded to give the lagoon a VERY wide berth! Thankfully there were no other sightings throughout the day.
The team worked solidly and removed just over 600kg (110 bags) from the beach, ranging from large drums, welding canisters and huge drift nets that were buried in the sand, to bottles and small fragments of plastic. As usual, it was quite the mission loading everything onto the Wavelength vessel and weighing the debris from the boat, but the team was determined!
On the way home the volunteers had some visitors… over 30 False Killer Whales joined everyone for a bow ride for about half an hour! Their songs could be heard even over the engine noises, and there were even some young ones joining in on the fun. Perhaps this was Tangaroa saying “thank you for cleaning our oceans!”
Some of the several False Killer Whales that came to say hi on the return journey!
Upon return to Port Douglas, the job was not done, as the team needed to load everything in the trucks to return to Cairns. The following day a group of awesome volunteers helped sort through all the bags to enter the data into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) Database. The tally included 2,032 lids and bottle-tops, 106 bleach and cleaner bottles, 106m of rope, 203 personal care bottles, 163 rope/net scraps, 932 foam remnants, 5,976 broken pieces of hard plastic, 277 rubber remnants, 468 rubber thongs and 869 bottles! A large portion of the debris came from the sea, including a heavy boat radar and other boat wreckage, nets and foreign water bottles.
Thanks to everyone involved for your help, it was an incredible trip and we look forward to heading back sometime next year!