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St Bernard's College at Painkalac Creek

201303 Santa MonicaSt Bernard's College students headed out in March once again for their monthly monitoring program as part of the Australian Marine Debris Initiative. This month we concentrated on our two local river mouths – Grassy Creek and Painkalac Creek. Our focus was on looking for small pieces of plastic (5 cent piece size and smaller). Most of the 1320 pieces we found were on the banks of the Painkalac Creek, about 40 metres from the outlet to the sea. This is an area we have targeted before – each boy given the challenge of finding 100 pieces. They did this easily, completing their collection in about 20 minutes. So that was 1320 pieces of plastic in a 50 metre stretch, found in 20 minutes! All of the plastic and styrofoam remnants were found caught up in the seagrass at the high tide mark.

We suspect that most of the litter in this area is from land-based sources as the mouth is only occasionally opened to the sea. There is very little development upstream other than farmland and forest but stormwater from the town does flow into the Painkalac. When the barway is opened over winter these items would be washed out with the tide. The items found in the Grassy Creek mouth, which is fully tidal and open to the sea, was mostly ocean debris. Thanks to Mark Smith and all the students!