Protecting marine life in Jurien Bay
Friday, 11 Aug, 2023
The beauty of Sandy Cape, located within the Jurien Bay Marine Park in Western Australia, just 220 km north of Perth, is undeniable.
The traditional owners and custodians of the land, the Noongar people, have occupied and managed this area for thousands of years and there are important cultural sites along the coast.
The waters around the area are home to the endangered Australian sea lion, our most beloved marine mammal as well as dolphins, and a diverse array of marine life and sea birds.
Recognising the threat of marine plastic pollution to marine life, Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris team returned for the third year to clean up the beaches around Sandy Cape.
Our five volunteers spent three days scouring the beaches, removing more than 450kg of trash, which was counted, sorted, and logged into our database. This is vital data which is shared with local stakeholders and actively contributes to conservation efforts and raises awareness about the urgent need for action.
While working, the team spotted a high-strength rope discarded by an industrial fishing vessel wrapped around rocks and buried by sand. The task to remove it began. Working against the rising tide, the team quickly began digging out the rope, realizing the implications the rope posed if reintroduced into the ocean. Eventually the rope was freed and the 50m - 120kg rope was hauled up the rocks and into the vehicle to return to camp.
Discarded fishing gear can result in migrating whales, resident sea lions and dolphins dying if they become entangled in the ghost gear. The crew were happy to be able to remove it and, with it, any possible danger to marine life.
Mike Dicks, a Sea Shepherd veteran crew member, has monitored sea lions around the waters of Perth and was part of the Jurien clean-up team.
“The Australian Sea lion is declining in numbers, and it is estimated that they are only 6500 left nationwide. The area around Jurien Bay plays a critical role in safeguarding the dwindling population as it is a vital habitat for breeding female sea lions and visiting males, and one of the few breeding place along the WA coastline. Given their endangered status and to protect these amazing creatures, the ocean and beaches in the area must be cleared of any rope and fishing gear to keep them safe. That’s why we return each year to carry out this vital task. “Mike Dicks, Veteran Sea Shepherd crew member
The clean-up effort highlighted discarded recreational fishing gear as the main pollutant found on the beaches. Included in the haul were a significant number of polystyrene fishing floats, broken-up bait boxes, cray and crab pots, lures, fishing line, bait bags and rope. In total, 450m of fishing rope was removed from the marine park’s pristine coast.
Being a popular destination for boating and fishing it is imperative everyone is aware of how their actions directly affect the health and future of the marine park. It is disappointing that some fishermen who visit the area to enjoy this remarkable area are also responsible for trashing it and endangering the lives of local marine life.
“The Jurien Bay rangers gave us a warm welcome and a prime camping spot. We often lost count of how many kilometres of stunning coastline we walked along. Cleaning the beaches at Sandy Cape is so rewarding, knowing that you are further protecting animals such as the endangered Australian sea lion. “Anthony Maker, Sea Shepherd Perth Marine Debris Coordinator
It was a huge result for the ocean with 5,500 pieces of trash removed weighing over 450kgs. Thank you to the local Rangers who stopped by daily to see the results and to the Shire of Dandaragan for supporting the Sea Shepherd crew for the third year. We will return next year to continue the vitally important work of keeping this special place safe and free of marine plastics.
We respectfully acknowledge the Noongar people who are the traditional Owners of the region and pay our respects to all Aboriginal elders and leaders past, present and emerging.
You can read more about our work in this precious area by reading our findings from last year here.