18,000 pieces of plastic are estimated to float in every square kilometre of ocean.
633 species worldwide including 77 Australian species are impacted by marine debris.
Over 75% of what is removed from our beaches is made of plastic.
Tangaroa Blue Foundation is an Australian-wide not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris, one of the major environmental issues worldwide. But if all we do is clean-up, that is all we will ever do.
To successfully solve the problem, the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) was created, an on-ground network of volunteers, communities and organisations that contribute data from rubbish collected during beach and river clean-up events to the AMDI Database, and then work on solutions to stop the flow of litter at the source. The AMDI helps communities look after their coastal environment by providing resources and support programs, and collaborates with industry and government to create change on a large scale.
In Maori and Polynesian mythology, Tangaroa is the god of the ocean. Tangaroa made laws to protect the ocean and its sea creatures "Tiaki mai i ahau, maku ano koe e tiaki"... If you look after me, then I will look after you..." When, after a week-long clean-up event, the whales and dolphins come close to our beach and slap their flippers, we sometimes wonder if it is Tangaroa saying "thank you".
Only 9 months ago, Tangaroa Blue travelled to the very tip of our continent for the first time to clean up the iconic Five Beaches Loop near Somerset. After a 2-day break from our Captain Billy clean-up 2016, Tangaroa Blue and Conservation Volunteers Australia headed there again to remove what had washed up since September 2015.
With the camp set up at Australia’s northernmost camp ground Punsand Bay (the presence of running water and showers at the camp came like Christmas presents to the volunteers that had just spent a week at Captain Billy’s), the group travelled every day to Somerset, where we set up our data camp near the access to the chain of picturesque coves and rugged headlands that form the Five Beaches Loop. Giant red termite mounds fringed the rough 4WD track to the beaches where the team of 20 fanned out to collect the rubbish.
Only one day after the Cape Bedford expedition, Tangaroa Blue set sails again for their so far longest and greatest Cape York adventure: For the first time the two northernmost trips were combined into one, saving us another 2000km of driving back and forth to our office in Mossman. And even though volunteers could come to either the Captain Billy’s Landing clean-up or to the event in Somerset, most of the group stayed for the entire time and life long memories.
The windswept cliffs of Captain Billy’s lie in the far north east of the peninsula. It took two days of driving over red, yellow and white corrugations to get there, and the adventure started right on day 1: The team rescued an injured red tailed black cockatoo – named Captain Billie-Flint – from the side of the road. Cool as a cucumber, the wild bird travelled with us in the car for two days, totally comfortable with all those humans around her, before we could hand her over to a wildlife carer near our destination. Captain Billie-Flint was since transferred to a vet in Weipa, airlifted to the avian hospital in Cairns, will be released in a few weeks time and has become the most well travelled cockatoo of Cape York. Not long after our cockatoo episode we even came across mating snakes in the middle of the road, performing a mesmerising courting dance. True David Attenborough stuff!
A number of environmental groups joined together with the Keppel Coast Arts Council’s Fig Tree Markets to launch a ‘Too Lovely to Litter’ campaign on Sunday 5 June for World Environment Day.
‘Too Lovely to Litter’ aimed to raise awareness about the environmental impacts that marine debris has on our coastal and marine wildlife.
The idea for this event emerged after Capricornia Catchments’ Project Officer Shelly McArdle was approached by Julie Robertson of Wildlife Rockhampton after a particularly harrowing failed rescue attempt of a local seabird that had ingested debris. In considering how to reduce these incidents, the idea was explored further at a recent Source Reduction Workshop hosted by Tangaroa Blue, Livingstone Shire Council and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. This workshop saw a number of stakeholders come together to discuss local marine debris concerns with a view to identifying ways to mobilise community to stop this debris ending up on our beaches in the first place. The result was the formation of an organising committee that set about planning this World Environment Day event.
Today Tangaroa Blue volunteers reached a huge milestone - the 6 millionth item was recorded into the Australian Marine Debris Database!! The lucky debris item was collected by the crew on MV Bahama while they were visiting Lizard Island. A huge thank you to everyone that has submitted data to the AMDI Database, not only is our environment 6 million items cleaner, but you have provided a huge amount of evidence that government, industry and community are using to create change that stops the flow of rubbish into our oceans! Thank you to everyone!!!