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Updates from the Field: Cocos Keeling Islands 'Trash Bash' 2021

Monday, 22 Nov, 2021

For the second year in a row, Sea Shepherd is at the Coco Keeling Islands conducting an intensive remote clean-up mission. The goal of the clean-up project is simple - remove as much debris as possible to make the beaches and the ocean safer for marine life, whilst supporting the remote island communities who are faced with ocean plastics washing onto their shores.

The Cocos Keeling Islands are Australia’s most remote island territory located 2,750 kilometres north-west of Perth, Western Australia in the Indian Ocean. The group of coral islands are a place of immense beauty, with pristine reefs and a wide variety of marine life.

Sea Shepherd's marine debris crew who are part of the Cocos “Trash Bash” 2021 team will be tackling hotspot beaches on several of the islands. Our inaugural Cocos 2020 campaign saw over 11 tonnes of debris removed, so we know the work ahead will be mighty for the crew.

Scroll down to read updates from the field from our National Marine Debris Campaigner, Marina Hansen as part of out Cocos “Trash Bash” 2021 remote campaign.

The Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Campaign crew at the Cocos Keeling Islands. Photo: Viki Blackmore

Update One - South Island

Sea Shepherd’s Cocos Trash Bash 2021 remote clean-up campaign is underway with the crew hitting the ground running at South Island, in the Cocos Keeling Islands, offshore Australia.

In just over 72 hours, the 8 crew removed 188 collection bags weighing 1,279 kgs and 1,760 kgs of discarded fishing ropes and nets. Together their efforts have resulted in over 3 tonnes of harmful debris no longer on the beaches of this stunning tropical island.

To maximise their time cleaning, the crew spent 3 nights camping on the deserted island, getting to the clean-up areas by walking the 1.8kms or on the higher tides by outrigger canoe and a support dinghy. 

Campaign Leader Liza Dicks said cleaning beaches on a remote island certainly comes with its challenges.

"The teamwork displayed by the crew has been exceptional, often having to think on their feet and adapt together to the changing sea conditions and weather.” “We have seen many, many turtles swimming in the lagoon, so we know the work Sea Shepherd is carrying out will most definitely have a positive impact to local marine life”

- Campaign Leader, Liza Dicks.

Take a look at our photos from South Island below ⬇️

The base for the Sea Shepherd crew cleaning up South Island. They camped on the deserted island to maximise time cleaning the beaches. Photo: Viki Blackmore
A high density spot out the back of South Island. Photo: Viki Blackmore
Sea Shepherd's Cocos Tash Bash 2021 crew at South Island with some of the fishing debris and bags of ocean plastics they removed. Photo: Viki Blackmore
Removing the ropes and net entangled in the vegetation was difficult and time consuming. Photo: Viki Blackmore
Sea Shepherd crew cleaning up the beach at South Island. Photo: Viki Blackmore
A hermit crab navigating around plastic polluting the beach. A very common sight sadly. Photo: Viki Blackmore
Campaign Leader Liza Dicks carrying a bulka bag of debris. Photo: Viki Blackmore
188 bags of debris and 1.7 tonnes of rope/net removed from South Island. Photo: Viki Blackmore

Update Two - Turtles at the Cocos Keeling Islands

Whilst cleaning beaches during our remote clean-up mission at the Cocos Keeling Islands, Sea Shepherd’s crew have seen numerous Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) including this amazing turtle photographed swimming off South Island. 

Sea turtles are key stone species, important for a thriving ecosystem. They love grazing on seagrass, keeping seagrass beds healthy, not just for themselves but other species too including ourselves! Sea grass captures carbon up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests so by protecting turtles by removing debris from beaches and the ocean, we’re protecting the planet!

Photo: Viki Blackmore

Check back for new updates from our 2021 Cocos Keeling Islands 'Trash Bash' or learn more about our Sea Shepherd Australia Marine Debris Campaign.

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