Thursday, 21 Sep, 2023
Sea Shepherd Australia have partnered with organisations and teams from across remote ranger programs, science and government to bring relief to the coastline of the Groote Archipelago in the Northern Territory.
This is the second year in a row that Sea Shepherd Australia have worked alongside the Anindilyakwa Land & Sea Rangers to remove plastic pollution from the beaches. This year, Sea Shepherd Australia also partnered with CSIRO – Australia's National Science Agency, and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s (DAFF) Ghost Net team, and worked closely with the local community including the Learning on Country progam and Umbakumba School to share, educate and learn.
Keep reading to hear about the incredible clean-up and collaborations.
Our volunteer crew flew in from across Australia assembling at the Anindilyakwa Land & Sea Ranger base on Friday night to ensure we were ready to support the rangers for their fourth annual Clean Up Groote Eylandt Day (CUGED).
Early Saturday the Sea Shepherd team joined the rangers and DAFF's Ghost Net team and headed to Umbakumba to set up and prepare for the local community clean-up. The Sea Shepherd team headed out with the first convoy on the challenging 30-minute 4wd journey to 8-mile beach.
Once we arrived, our team jumped into action and removed 440 kilograms of plastic pollution over four hours before heading back to the Umbakumba ranger base with the rest of the participants.
Protecting Habitats Campaigner, Grahame Lloyd, said it was incredible to see the collaborative effort.
“It was great to see so many families out on Country working together to help protect marine life. It was also fantastic to see the reduction in loading over last year, proving that a regular clean-up program can help reduce the effects of plastic pollution over time.”Grahame Lloyd, Protecting Habitats Campaigner
In total, 132 people came together on Clean Up Groote Eylandt Day removing 1,320 kilograms of plastic pollution from the beach. After the clean-up, we headed back to the Anindilyakwa Land & Sea Rangers base at Alyangula to weigh all the rubbish collected. We then took a 10% random sample which we counted, sorted, and catalogued using CSIRO’s methodology and ODK app which was refined for this remote clean up based on historical data.
On Sunday morning we returned to 8-mile beach to continue where we finished, and this time we were privileged to be joined by some kids from the local Umbakumba School as part of their Learning on Country program.
The kids enjoyed hearing about marine life, and learning about the impact plastic pollution has on turtles.
After the kids headed off, we continued cleaning 8-mile beach before heading to Little Sands where we would camp and base ourselves for the next two days.
We spent Monday and Tuesday cleaning up Little Sands and making our way along the coastline. This was a beautiful location but unfortunately, it had never been cleaned and there was a lot of plastic pollution, especially in the rocky areas. The sandy beaches were also badly affected, but as we saw on 8-mile beach, a lot of the older debris had been buried by the sand.
On Wednesday we were joined by four of the Traditional Owner rangers (TO) who helped us clean up a heavily affected beach. We then headed back to the ranger base at Alyangula to count and sort a 10% sample of what was collected that day, then entered into CSIRO’s ODK app.
For the next three days we cleaned the coastline leading to South Point. The plastic loading was light at the entry point but became denser as we made our way to the point, with the last 100 meters by far the worst.
On Friday night after a day spent cleaning the beach, we hosted a free community screening of "Defend, Conserve, Protect" at the Alyangula oval, with over 60 people attending. The rangers displayed several videos of the work they do before showing the video their team put together from last year’s CUGED.
In total over the course of the week, our team alongisde the Anindilyakwa Land & Sea Rangers removed 3,186 kilograms of plastic pollution from 15.5 kilometres of coastline.
Over 93% of all items collected were plastic with 10% of the total fishing-related.
"We’re extremely grateful to all involved in this clean-up, including the Anindilyakwa Land and Sea Rangers, DAFF’s Ghost Net team, the local community, and CSIRO Australia’s National Science Agency. It’s by working together that we can have the most impact."Grahame Lloyd, Protecting Habitats Campaigner
Sea Shepherd received funding under a Parks Australia Ghost Nets Innovative Solutions grant to support the Anindilyakwa clean up.