Great Barrier Reef Clean-up 2020

This October the Great Barrier Reef Clean-up took place with events ranging from multi-day clean-ups in the Torres Strait and the remote shores of Hinchinbrook Island, to day-long events targeting local beaches across Queensland’s coast. A flagship event was held at strategic locations along the Great Barrier Reef, including Harbour Beach (Mackay/Whitsundays), Alva Beach (Burdekin), Hinchinbrook Island (Far North QLD), Innes Park (Burnett Mary), Farnborough Beach (Capricorn Coast) and Moa Island (Torres Strait). Over 200 volunteers registered for these flagship events, with over 280 bags and 2.7 tonnes of marine debris pulled off the beaches in total.

Harbour Beach Clean-up
George Tonga, Yuwibara Elder and member of the local Traditional Owner Reference Group (TORG)

At Harbour Beach in Mackay on the 3rd of October we had the pleasure of starting the day with a Welcome to Country from Yuwibara Elder George Tonga. Representatives from GBRMPA, Pioneer Catchment Landcare, Reef Catchments and Mackay Regional Council attended on the day. It was great to see all the kids on the beach and many of them were even able to take some treasures home! It was interesting to see that this site collected not only local litter, but also foreign items such as water bottles and packaging from overseas.

Hinchinbrook Island was another great success, with over 2 tonne removed over 4 days from Ramsay Bay. A small group of volunteers camped on Goold Island from the 8th-11th of October and were shuttled to site each morning. On the weekend additional volunteers were shuttled over from Cardwell aboard Wavelength Reef Cruises to join in on the fun. The most common item found was plastic bottles and of note was a huge foam buoy that weighed 92kg!

Foam buoy found on Hinchinbrook Island
This block of foam weighed in at a whopping 92kg!

On the 22nd of November the Torres Strait Regional Authority organised a Great Barrier Reef Clean-up and Tangaroa Blue were able to send up a staff member to assist with the data collection. Over 80 volunteers (including 57 school kids) from the Kubin and St Paul communities on Moa Island picked up more than 100kg of debris, with the most common items found being plastic drink bottles, broken hard bits of plastic and plastic lids. The kids kept the lids for art projects.

 Community members also had the opportunity to register their own site throughout the month of October. The Data is still rolling in, but so far these incredible volunteers contributed to pulling another 216 bags and 1,641 kg off the shores.

Students weigh, sort and count after cleaning up their local beach on Moa Island

One of these community members was Tangaroa Blue Ambassador Elijah (from Elijah’s World), who hosted his first clean-up event which attracted a great crowd including friends and teachers from school. At this clean-up along Burnett Heads, volunteers discovered plastic biofilters at the end of drainpipes leading into the water. The Tangaroa Blue crew were able to speak with the owners of a local business about this loss, and immediate steps were taken to prevent the future loss of the biofilters from the premises. Elijah has pledged to continue to monitor this site into the future. This was an efficient Source Reduction process which demonstrates the importance of data collection during clean-up events.

Drainpipes fitted with caps and mesh to catch biofilters.

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