Reef Guardian School’s Future Leaders Eco Challenge Clean Up Cooktown

On Friday the 16th of October, students from the Reef Guardian Schools in the Cape York area joined together to clean up the North Shore of Cooktown as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian School’s Future Leaders Eco Challenge day.

Cooktown State School, Bloomfield River State School and Hope Vale State School students were greeted by Megan Sperring and Karlina Seekee, the organisers of the FLEC from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The Cooktown Mayor, Peter Scott, also spoke to the students recognising that FLEC day was the first of its kind and a landmark towards conserving the future of our environment. After the morning introductions the students split into two teams and headed off to the two activities planned for the day, Water Quality Testing and Beach Clean Up.

Nick Leigh from Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society joined forces with Ian McCollum from CYMAG (Cape York Marine Advisory Group) to run the Beach Clean Up activity while Jason Carroll from the South Cape York Catchments conducted the Water Quality Testing.

The first team of students made their way to the Cooktown Cruises boat and headed out to the North Shore beach to start the clean up. The plan was to walk along the beach collecting rubbish before being collected further down the beach but the first group found so much rubbish that they could not carry it down the beach so they had to make a collection point to take all the debris to. The second group then switched activities and cleaned up the next 300m of beach, collecting nearly as much debris as the first group and again had to create a collection point as the amount of rubbish was too much to carry.

The most commonly found items were remnants of plastic and remnants of plastic bags but there was also a large amount of rope and fishing nets found. There was a large variety of items found and pools of water where the creek met the rocks on the beach a large red mooring buoy, a plastic toilet cistern and a large refrigeration unit complete with its foam packing were also found. Buried in the sand just above the high tide line the students found a Thermos flask and three quarters of a crate marked “Stolen from Talleys”.

In total the clean up removed 111Kg of marine debris from the beach so thank you to all the students and teachers of the schools for taking part; Megan Sperring and Karlina Seekee of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority; Cooktown Cruises for the use of their boat and Lyle for being the skipper on the day; Jason Carroll for his expertise with water quality and help with the debris sorting and counting; Bunnings Warehouse for providing the students with hats and gloves and everyone else involved in making the day such a success. Photos will be coming soon…

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