Bare Sand Marine Debri Collection 2012
Masses of discarded fishing nets, plastic bottles, rubber footwear and other debri washes up each year on the shores of the top end, impacting on nesting turtles and their habitats. Bare Sand Island is an important nesting ground for flatback turtles, and since the inception of the Turtle Tracks tour Team Turtle have been collecting all marine debri from the island and returning it to Darwin for proper disposal.
In 2010 Sea Darwin joined with Georgia Smith, who as part of her community service work for the Duke of Edinburgh Award, surveyed all debri collected from the island and contirbuted the results to the WWF Natioinal Marine Debris Database. On 23 April 2010 Georgia was joined by a Snubfin full of willing volunteers, and the nesting beach was measured at 650 metres and initial rubbish collected – all under the watchful eyes of 5 nesting flatbacks! A tradition was been born and on 18 April 2011 in the tail of wild wet season weather more eco warriers braved wild seas and storm cells to collect another boat full of rubblish so that the turtles have a clean beach for the 2011 besting season. The efforts were appreciated, as one old lady cruised up to see what was going on. Again, on 18 April 2012 another boat load of willing volunteers had a wild ride to the island, collecting rubbish under the watchful eye of one nesting turtle.
Since the inception of the project, there has been a marked decrease in the amount of marine debri collected each year. While there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of rubbish and the verocity of the wet season storms, the collection data might also be impacted by the commencement of the Unexploded Ordinance Project on the island in 2011, as the Defence workers are also doing their bit for the environment and collecting marine debri as they go about their business.
- Survey data 2010: 53.7 kgs of rubbish
- Survey data 2011: 47.1 kgs of rubbish
- Survey data 2012: 29.1 kgs of rubbish
As expected, we collect masses of plastic bottles, cans, plastic debri, bottle tops and thongs. Some of the more unusual items collected have been pieces of plane wreckage, unopened carton of cigarettes, emergency potable water, a spade and an esky. Of most concern are the items that cause problems for the nesting flatbacks, including burst balloons which they mistake for jellyfish, weather balloons, prawn nets and string.
All data collected from our annual start of the season rubbish collection is forwarded to the World Wildlife Fund for their database.