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Updates from the field: Mulgumpin Emergency Response Marine Debris Clean-up

Tuesday, 24 May, 2022

As the coastline of Mulgumpin/Moreton Island has been inundated with plastic waste as a result of the devastating Brisbane floods, Sea Shepherd's dedicated crew has snapped into action with our Mulgumpin Emergency Response: Marine Debris Clean-up mission. 

 

Our Sea Shepherd Marine Debris team will be back in action at Mulgumpin/Moreton Island thanks to funding support received from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. 

The Mulgumpin Emergency Response: Marine Debris Clean-up program will consist of 5 weekend clean-ups by a dedicated team of Sea Shepherd volunteers working in partnership with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services Rangers and Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation Land and Sea Rangers to clean up this island paradise.

This program will also feature 4 clean-up days where our team will be joined by Tangalooma Island Resort staff and guests, residents, campers and anyone who would like to join us for the day.

This initiative comes after our recent clean-up on the island in the direct aftermath of the floods saw over 5 tonnes of debris removed in just one day, including pontoons, polystyrene, wrecked boats and other rubbish. Chunks of polystyrene from broken pontoons are of particular concern to the marine environment, as these pieces can take more than 500 years to break down.

Plastic debris including styrofoam pieces on mulgumpin in March 2022. Photo: Britt Bentley

Why is this clean-up so critical? 

The waters around Mulgumpin/Moreton Island are home to a variety of endemic, rare and protected wildlife, including dugongs, dolphins, turtles, terrestrial mammals and over 180 species of seabirds. Migrating whales also pass along the island's coastline and by cleaning the island's beaches, we will be providing immediate relief to these precious animals. 

 

Find out more 

Visit our events page to find out more about how YOU can join a clean-up, and make sure to check back to this page as our Remote Marine Debris Campaigner Grahame Lloyd brings you updates from the field. 

 

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Update One - March 23rd, 2022

Shocking new data from Sea Shepherd Australia’s recent clean-up of Mulgumpin/Moreton Island has shown a devastating 21-fold increase in plastic pollution following the extreme flooding event in South-East Queensland.

This figure is based on comparisons with past clean-ups of the island in 2019 and 2020, which were non-flood years. The past clean-ups were comparable in terms of beach coverage, human effort and seasonality – the main difference being the presence of floods in 2022.

Since the beginning of Sea Shepherd’s massive rapid-response clean-up of the island with Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) Land and Sea Rangers and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) Rangers, the partnership has resulted in a total of 15 tonnes of debris being removed from the island’s beaches over the course of four days. Of these 15 tonnes, 5 tonnes was removed by hand over one day, another 5 tonnes over the next few days, and a further 5 tonnes using machines to help shift large items like boats and pontoons.

This means that the impact of the floods averages a 21-fold increase in rubbish in a very short space of time, demonstrating the critical need for our Mulgumpin Emergency Reponse: Marine Debris Clean-up mission. 

Update Two - April 18th, 2022

This past weekend, our Marine Debris Campaign team returned to Mulgumpin to continue efforts to clean-up the coastline after it was inundated with debris from the floods.

Our team hosted a community clean-up on the land and in the water with a team of Sea Shepherd volunteers on our Apex Harmony Rib the “Grey Nurse”. 

Despite the rain, 18 local heroes joined our team on Saturday and together they removed 52 kg between Tangalooma point and the Tangalooma Wrecks on Saturday in just a few hours.

We continued our clean-up over the rest of the weekend with our team and an incredible group of locals removing 1.5 tonnes of debris. What an effort! ✊

Thanks to everyone who joined us this weekend! Our next Mulgumpin Emergency Response: Marine Debris Clean-up is on the 14th of May.

The team at Mulgumpin. Photo: Rebecca Griffiths
Plastic debris found on the beach. Photo: Rebecca Griffiths
Styrofoam littering the island. Photo: Rebecca Griffiths
Sea Shepherd volunteers on the RIB, the 'Grey Nurse'. Photo: Rebecca Griffiths
Volunteers pictured with trash on the beach. Photo: Rebecca Griffiths

Update Three - April 21st, 2022

At our most recent Mulgumpin Emergency Response: Marine Debris Clean-up, our volunteer team came across two cormorants with fishing hook entanglements. In the first image, the fishing hook has pierced the cormorant’s cheek and in the second image, the cormorant holds its injured foot in the air.

Unfortunately, this is all too common. Fishing gear can have a devastating effect on seabirds and these are just two examples. These injuries are painful and can cause great suffering.

Our team was unable to catch these birds to rescue them, however the eco-rangers on Mulgumpin will continue working to do so. 

Update Five - May 13th to 15th, 2022

Continued flooding and wet weather across Southeast Queensland hasn’t stopped our mission to remove debris from Mulgumpin/Moreton Island. 

At our most recent Mulgumpin Emergency Response: Marine Debris Clean-up our team managed to remove nearly 1.5 tonnes of rubbish from the coastline, bringing the total debris shifted up to 20 tonnes since our team arrived in March.

Shifting nearly 1.5 tonnes of debris, including 100 “rubber jellyfish” (exploded balloons) over one weekend reminded the team of humanity’s obsession with plastic. Nearly one tonne of the items removed consisted of hard and soft plastics, polystyrene balls, single-use items, and weather balloons. #EveryPieceCounts and every piece can be a big danger for marine life. 

Marine Debris Remote Campaigner, Grahame Lloyd was shocked when, standing in one spot, he witnessed a constant wash of plastics coming in. In just two minutes he removed 10 single-use plastic items. Even though the single-use plastic ban is in place the problem is not solved yet. 

Thank you to all our incredible volunteers who joined us for the weekend and helped to clean this coastline. 

Thanks to funding support received from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program, this program will consist of five-weekend clean-ups by a dedicated team of Sea Shepherd volunteers working in partnership with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers and Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation Land and Sea Rangers to clean up this island paradise.

The Mulgumpin Emergency Response: Marine Debris clean-up team will continue their mission at Mulgumpin on the 10-12th June. 

Update Six - May 24th, 2022

 

As of today, our incredible team has conducted three clean-ups and removed over 20 tonnes of debris from the island. Join us in June to continue removing debris to help keep the island safe for marine life.

This campaign was only made possible thanks to generous funding from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action Grant Program!

Watch our video update on the clean-up mission so far.

Update seven - June 10th to 12th

Blue skies, icy wind, crystal clear ocean and a whole lot of rubbish over at Mulgumpin for our fourth weekend of clean-ups as part of the Mulgumpin Emergency Response: Marine Debris Campaign.

As soon as our team disembarked the ferry on Friday afternoon, they headed out for a quick clean, managing to remove 130 kilograms in an hour over a 200-metre stretch of beach. 

Saturday morning dawned chilly and sunny, setting the scene for a full day of cleaning. The team conducted their monthly survey before heading to Tangalooma Island Resort to set up their education stall and community clean-up. The other five members of the team headed off to the Eastern side of the island, removing 650 kilograms of debris over a six-hour period. 

On Sunday, the full team headed off working around from the South-East side of the island to the South-West side, removing a total of 900 kilograms of debris.

Over the course of the weekend, our team of volunteers spent as much time as daylight and the tides would allow to remove a total of 1,680 kilograms of debris from the island. The debris ranged from a big rusty fridge to bottle caps, nurdles, broken hard plastics, balloons, kids' toys and much more.

There is still a lot of work to be done. We need your help! Join us for our next community clean-up over at Mulgumpin on Saturday 9th July to #StemTheTide.

 This work is funded by the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program, in partnership with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers and Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation Land and Sea Rangers.

See photos from the clean-up below!

Update eight: July 8th to 11th.

Sea Shepherd’s remote crew hit the ground running for the last weekend of the Mulgumpin Emergency Response: Marine Debris clean-up!

Over the weekend, the team removed over 530kg of trash from the island, of which 50% was was micro and macro plastics from the creeks and shoreline.

On Saturday a community clean-up was held at Tangalooma Island Resort, with several guests grabbing a bag and heading out to join the crew to clean the beach. A huge shout out to three legends who travelled over from Brisbane just to help with the clean-up.

20Kg of the trash was moved from the area just around the resort.

This weekend was the final Mulgumpin Emergency Response: Marine Debris Clean-up.

An incredible 22 tonnes of marine plastic pollution was removed with 1,000 hours of volunteer work dedicated to the task!

Thank you to all the #OceanHeroes who supported our campaign and helped to protect the marine environment on magnificent Mulgumpin!

We are very grateful for the support of QYAC and QPWS Rangers, Tangalooma Island Resort staff and guests, local residents, and the QLD government’s community sustainability action grant.

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