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Clean Up West Australia’s Beaches on Sunday 14 October

2012 West Australian Beach Clean UpWhat is Marine Debris doing to our Ocean?

A 1997 study found that at least 267 species have been affected by marine debris worldwide, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species, and 43% of all marine mammal species, as well as numerous fish and crustaceans. Laist, D.W. “Impacts of Marine Debris: Entanglement of Marine Life in Marine Debris, Including a Comprehensive List of Species with Entanglement and Ingestion Records.” In Marine Debris: Sources, Impacts and Solutions, eds. J.M. Coe and D.B. Rogers. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag, 1997.

About one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals (including 30,000 seals) and turtles are killed by plastic marine litter every year, around the world. Dr David Kemp Minister for the Environment and Heritage March 2004

In South Australia alone, marine debris is believed responsible for the deaths of about 370 sea lions and fur seals each year. Around Kangaroo Island, Australian sea lions and fur seals get entangled at a rate that is the third and fourth for any seal species globally. Plastic is a particular danger to 20 Australian threatened species, listed under the EPBC Act.

Endangered species: Loggerhead Turtle, Southern Right Whale, Blue Whale, Tristan Albatross, Northern Royal Albatross, Gould’s Petrel.

Vulnerable species: Leatherback Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Flatback Turtle, Green Turtle, Wandering Albatross, Humpback Whale, Antipodean Albatross, and Gibson’s Albatross, Southern Royal Albatross, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Grey Nurse Shark, Grey-headed Albatross, Blue Petrel, and Northern Giant Petrel.

Dr David Kemp Minister for the Environment and Heritage March 2004

Marine debris can be ingested by animals, fish and birds causing internal blockages and death. 76 pieces of plastic were found in the stomach and intestines of a green sea turtle. It had died of septicaemia and starvation. (picture right top).

Many animals including albatross have died due to ingestion of many pieces of plastic. When this animal degrades into the earth, the plastic will remain and potentially cause the death of many other animals.

Animals, fish and birds can become entangled in marine debris.  The marine debris becomes tighter and tighter as the animal grows eventually causing painful infections, amputations and death.

In every square kilometre of ocean there is an estimated 18,000 pieces of plastic. Marine life and seabirds are living in an ocean of plastic!
Plastics breakdown into smaller and smaller pieces as they float around the oceans and do not biodegrade. Not only do they become ingested by marine life, but they can also accumulate toxic chemicals, including DDT and PCBs. Plastic particles have been found to concentrate such chemicals to one million times the levels found in the water itself. Moore, C. “A Comparison of Neustonic Plastic and Zooplankton Abundance in Southern California’s Coastal Waters and Elsewhere in the North Pacific.” Presentation to California and the World Ocean Conference. Santa Barbara, CA, October 2002.

How Can You Help?

Help keep our beaches beautiful by joining the Perth Scuba volunteers already registered in the great WA Beach Cleanup on Sunday 14th October @ 8:30am. We want to help protect the marine environment from the harm of marine debris. After our recent club dive to the area we understand how much help the South Mole beach needs from divers and non-divers alike.

You can get involved by joining our clean up at South Mole Beach, Fremantle. Meet at South Mole Fremantle 8:30am near the Challenger TAFE carpark on Fleet Street. If you’re diving for debris don’t forget to BRING: Dive Gear, Sturdy Gloves & Catch Bag OR if you’re shore support bring your Sturdy Gloves, Sunscreen & Hat. All volunteers will enjoy a FREE BBQ lunch after cleaning up above and below the water.

Thanks for keeping Australia beautiful! Register as a volunteer by contacting us.

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