As the first turtle hatchlings of the season make their way from their nests to the ocean, more than 300 people braved the wet weather at the weekend to join Sunshine Coast Council’s annual clean-up event.
Environment Councillor Jenny McKay said volunteers removed more than 800kg of litter from the coast’s beaches and waterways from 19 sites between North Bribie to Coolum.
“Last year’s event saw more than 600kg of debris removed from beaches and waterways, this year we’ve set a new record removing a total of 843kg,” Cr McKay said.
“Ingestion of marine debris is one of the major causes of death in hatchling sea turtles as they migrate across the Pacific Ocean.
“The incredible efforts of our community over the weekend will give these tiny turtles born on our beaches the best chance of survival.”
The volunteer participants focussed on collecting small hard plastics that had washed in during the recent swell and tide events, which have been identified as a major threat to surface feeding hatchling turtles.
Unity Water Community Relations Specialist Kate Cash said they were thrilled to support the clean-up event.
“We are passionate about reducing plastic waste in our community, particularly single-use plastic water bottles,” she said.
“It’s great to see so many organisations coming together to help protect our local turtles.
“Our Back To Tap van was a big hit with volunteers over the weekend, providing chilled, free water and reusable water bottles to the wonderful volunteers cleaning up our beaches.”
While volunteers removed litter and debris from the beaches, ReefCheck Australia divers also scoured local waterways.
ReefCheck Australia spokeswoman Jodi Salmond said everyone could make a difference when it comes to marine debris by making small changes to daily behaviours.
“This event is an amazing example of what we can do when we all work together,” Ms Salmond said.
“Think about the items you use daily and aim to reduce your waste. Say no to single use plastics- buy in bulk, use reusable shopping bags and invest in a re-usable coffee cup.”
The event was supported by local community groups such as Coolum and North Shore Coast Care, Ocean Crusaders, Surfrider Foundation, Sea Shepherd and Poppy Ive’s Visionary Ocean Warriors and 70 international students from Rustic Pathways.
🙏 A huge thanks to more than 300 people who braved the weather 🌧 to set a new record of 834kg of debris removed from our beaches during Cleanup for the Hatchlings on Saturday!🐢#Turtleyawesome effort 🙌— SunshineCoastCouncil (@CouncilSCC) February 5, 2018
Special shout out to our partners and community groups #sunshinecoast pic.twitter.com/fKQOVcI8Xg