In fourth term, students form St Bernard’s Santa Monica Campus ventured down to one of the beautiful remote stretches of coastline in Victoria. We centred our clean up on the beach at Aire River and monitored the debris over a two month period. While the high tide mark was littered with the usual amount of small plastic pieces we concentrated most of our time and energy on the large rock shelves at either end of the beach. Here we found a huge amount of rope and fishing gear, all deposited and tangled in the rocks at the high tide mark. We used knives and even garden loppers to untangle and retrieve as much as we could on both trips. All of the ropes, about 200 metres in all, were synthetic, meaning they would take decades to break down. It’s pretty clear from what we found that fishing trawlers are responsible for most of the debris washing up on these beaches. There was a lot of netting as well as bait baskets and floats. We will continue to monitor this stretch of the coast during late summer and autumn next year.
The students in St Mary’s FLL team have focused on the problem of plastic waste in our oceans and the harm this is doing to sea birds and sea animals. They have designed a series of posters that they hope will encourage people to take responsibility for the waste that they produce. The posters use the principles seen in cigarette packaging (short slogans with graphic images) to “shock” people into action and encourage them to take responsibility for their actions. Read more “Posters to Help Educate!”
During term three the Santa Monica boys undertook two large-scale clean-ups, one close to home (between Cathedral Rock and Grassy Creek) and one further afield (Johanna Beach, near Cape Otway) along Victoria’s stunning surf coast.
Once again we were staggered by the amount of debris we collected and collated from the two sites. Both areas are open to the big winter swells that hit the west coast of Victoria, so a lot of the debris appeared to come of fishing boats or larger ships. At Johanna, in particular, there was a lot of rope and plastic bottles, as well as the usual amount of smaller plastic pieces along the high tide mark. Between Cathedral and Grassy Creek we collected a lot of styrofoam, much of it broken up boxes. This term will see us take on the monumental task of Station Beach, immediately to the west of the Cape Otway lighthouse. We will report back with our “catch” later in November.
Approximately 65 students from our College wanted to raise money for students in Vanuatu who have been affected by Cyclone Pam earlier this year whilst also doing something constructive for our local community. The result was spending 4 hours cleaning up the most Northern 3 km of Birubi Beach. Students were astounded at the amount of rubbish that was there and disappointed with the number of old beer bottles. Two syringes were also discovered and discarded into a ‘sharps disposal container’. Worimi Park rangers joined the students in collecting rubbish and also supplied bags and gloves. Ranger Nadine thanked our students and welcomed them back next year. The total amount collected was 2.42 tonnes.
St. Philips Christian College’s sense of community extends to the oceans, as highlighted in the video clip produced by Grace Kim about Marine Debris. The video, “Journey to the Ocean via Rubbish,” was shown at the Planet Ocean Screening in January as well as at the Environmental Awards Ceremony.