With wet weather on the horizon, Sunshine Coast Council event organisers were unsure how many community volunteers would help with the seventh annual Clean Up for the Hatchlings.
They need not worry as 635 enthusiastic community members, including nearly 20 snorkelers, turned out early Saturday morning (February 8) to clean up 17 sites from Caloundra to Coolum.
A total of 596 kilograms of rubbish was collected, according to event organiser and Sunshine Coast Council Conservation and Wildlife Officer Dr Simone Bosshard.
“This total weight of rubbish is about 400kg less than the amount picked up at last year’s Clean Up for the Hatchlings event,” Dr Bosshard said.
“Even though we had a few less volunteers able to come out this year, the difference in weight of litter collected might show that our community is becoming more proactive and responsible in how they dispose of their rubbish or recycling.
“We hope this is a sign that genuine behaviour change around littering is setting in.
“Last year our community collected nearly one tonne of litter, and while that’s an impressive figure and effort, it also shows how much more waste was being left along our coastline.
“To see that total weight of rubbish reduced significantly this year is promising for our environment, and especially for our turtle hatchlings.
“This season already, we’ve seen eight clutches of turtle hatchlings emerge and make their way out to the ocean, and there are more to come over the next two to three months.
“When they are in their post-hatchling stage, at 10-40 centimetres, they float to the surface and eat everything around them, usually plankton and little jellyfish, but also, unfortunately, a lot of plastic.
“By cleaning up rubbish from our waterways and beaches, and reducing litter in general, we’re helping the survival rates of these hatchlings and other marine wildlife.”
General Manager for Reef Check Australia Jodi Salmond reiterated the importance of cleaning up every day.
“I think this type of event is really helpful, not only for the environment and the animals that live in it, but also for the community,” Ms Salmond said.
“While Clean Up for the Hatchlings is a wonderful event to be part of year after year, it also serves as a reminder to the community about how simple it is to not only clean up regularly, but to make smarter choices on a daily basis.
“It’s really easy to pick up a couple pieces of rubbish while out and about, but let’s also remember to say no to single-use items whenever we can.”
Clean Up for the Hatchlings is an annual event, now in its seventh year, hosted by Sunshine Coast Council, in partnership with Reef Check Australia, Unitywater, EnviroCom, SEA LIFE Trust and Clean Water Group.
Following the clean-up activities, hundreds of volunteers enjoyed a free barbecue, activities, speakers and more at La Balsa Park in Buddina where they also weighed and sorted the debris collected, contributing to the Australian Marine Debris Initiative database.
At the single-use plastic free barbecue, community members enjoyed a sausage sizzle or grilled mushroom from SJW Mushrooms, Dicky Beach Meats and Baker’s Delight in Mooloolaba, as well as family-friendly activities including face-painting by JulieArt Face Painting and bush critter creation with Tracy Lewis.
Special thanks go out to the many community groups who regularly host their own beach clean-up activities and who are regular supporters of council’s Beach Clean-Up program. These groups include Cam Saves the World, Coolum & North Shore Coast Care, Ocean Crusaders, Surfrider Foundation, Ten Little Pieces, TurtleCare and Visionary Ocean Warriors.
To find out more about future clean-up events or if you’re interested in hosting your own, contact council’s Beach Clean-Up team by ringing 5475 7272 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get involved in conservation, visit council’s website, https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Environment/Get-Involved-in-Conservation.