In the words of JR Tolkien "Not all those who wander are lost". My passion and loves are my family, travel and writing. I'm fortunate to be able to combine all three for an extraordinary life adventure....
Published September 20th 2017
Clean up of the Whitsundays - protecting the marine environment
Holidays in beautiful locations don't have to be completely self-indulgent. Volunteering is a great way to connect and network with the locals and the community, even if your only staying in the area for a brief period.
It isn't always easy though finding the right opportunities and the chance to jump on board quickly. Often volunteers are required to undergo a volunteer registration, interview and screening process beforehand which can take time.
However, one-off community events are a great way to get involved without having to make an ongoing commitment. Local council community event websites are often a good starting point in the search for ways to be part of making our world, no matter where you are, a better place to live.
In our case, it was more of being in the right place at the right time, with an added healthy dose of curiosity and spontaneity.
We found ourselves at the lovely Cannonvale foreshore (near Airlie beach) early one weekend morning and happened to come across the 'Eco Barge Clean Seas' regular foreshore clean-up sessions. I saw the small but strong contingent of volunteers from teenagers to older adults, armed with gloves and white printed large hessian 'rubbish' bags on their morning mission.
I couldn't help but stop and ask what they were up to, and before we knew it (I had roped my two young children in it too), we had changed into our 'enclosed shoes', donned our hats, picked up our map and were given a briefing at the registration desk of the clean-up focus area for the day. My eldest son wanted his own bag, sure that he alone would easily fill it.
So who are the volunteer-run, 'Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc.' and what exactly is the Whitsundays Marine Debris Removal program?
Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc. is a not-for-profit environmental organisation that was established in Airlie Beach to engage the community to protect the marine life and aquatic environment of the Whitsunday region.
On first look, the beach and foreshore surrounds looked clean and tidy and I wondered if I would find anything at all to put in my collector bag. However, it is amazing what you find when you actually start looking hard enough. It wasn't long before we found some obvious as well as other concealed items such as cans, chunks of broken ceramics, plastic cups, fishing line, food wrappers (lots of them) from lolly wrappers to large plastic items, cigarette butts, and lots of other fiddly little bits and pieces of rubbish hidden under a bush or mangrove here and there scattered over a reasonably small area.
It was my son who spoke aloud my precise thought at that moment; 'How could this clean beach be so dirty' and with bins only feet away. We didn't quite fill up our bags but over half-way through the morning session, we brought back our find, for weighing and sorting into containers. My kids were tired but pleased with themselves.
Not a bad effort for our planned 'lazing around' sort of day. We had achieved so much more than we had intended. Soon after we returned, the various volunteers regrouped and began the task of sorting and counting the various bits of rubbish to assist with the organisation's data collection and recording of the debris collected.
Sorting and recording an important part of the process
Of course, the reward for a grubby' morning's work included a morning tea complete with cupcakes, fruit and biscuits. Feeling satisfied with our small contribution to some very important work, we were now ready and over-due for a cool off and swim at the wonderful inviting Airlie beach lagoon.
Here's hoping that we all, regardless of where we live and where we are at any given time, do a small act of kindness to ensure the care and survival of our little slices of paradise we call home.
Most marine debris is attributable to what we consume; food, beverage, tobacco products and other consumer goods. Other significant categories of marine debris result from activities associated with marine transportation and shipping, fishing and manufacturing.
The most commonly collected items in the Whitsunday Region are; water beverage bottles, bottle tops, cleaning bottles, lighters, light plastics, fishing gear and shoes.
The Whitsunday Marine Debris Removal Program aims to have a constant and on-going debris removal program in the Whitsunday Region to regularly monitor and protect the islands and coastline. Since 2009, the Whitsunday marine debris removal program has collected over 169,000kgs.
In 2017 alone, there has been 16,710kgs collected so far. Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc. aim is to undertake a minimum of 40 marine debris removal trips AND WE were fortunate to be part of one of them.
For further details please see website, Facebook, phone or email: firstname.lastname@example.org