Turtle hatchlings across the Sunshine Coast have started to emerge from their nests and make their way to the ocean.
To help support these beautiful creatures, more than 700 community members came out to the annual Clean Up for the Hatchlings event on Saturday February 2 held at beaches across the coast.
Council’s TurtleCare Conservation Officer Dr Simone Bosshard said a record 735 volunteers of all ages (from 2 to 98 years old) removed more than 1.5 tonnes of litter from the coast’s beaches and waterways from 18 sites between North Bribie and Coolum.
“Last year’s event saw more than 800kg of debris removed from our beaches and waterways, and this year we’ve set a new record removing a total of 1.525 tonnes,” Dr Bosshard said.
“Littered rubbish is mistakenly eaten by turtles both young and old, and can cause malnutrition or starvation for hatchling sea turtles as they migrate across the Pacific Ocean.
“Our community has displayed such an incredible effort in the clean-up, and we are proud to give these tiny turtles born on our beaches the best chance of survival.
TurtleCare and community volunteers collected everything from small plastics to shopping trollies and surfboards. The most common items collected were cigarette butts and small hard and soft plastics.
SEQ Programs Manager for Reef Check Australia Jodi Salmond said that this year there was a lot more confetti picked up, amongst other items.
“From the rubbish picked up on land, foil based confetti showed up a lot this year. We also found zip ties, plastic clasps from bread bags, and dog waste bags particularly at picnic areas like La Balsa Park,” Ms Salmond said.
“We also had a number of divers and snorkelers scouring the local waterways, picking up bottles and aluminum cans that can easily be recycled through the container refund scheme, Containers for Change.”
Environment Councillor Jenny McKay said she was thrilled to see such support for the council’s clean-up event.
“It is truly amazing to see what a difference a motivated community can make,” Cr McKay said.
“This remarkable collective work also serves as a reminder of what we can do on a daily basis to reduce our waste.
“Say no to single use plastics, buy in bulk, and remember to use your reusable shopping bags, water bottles and coffee cups.”
The event was supported by local community groups including Ocean Crusaders, Coolum and North Shore Coast Care, Cleanwater Group, Surfrider Foundation, Sea Shepherd, Cam Saves the World, 10 Little Pieces, Bamboo Projects and Visionary Ocean Warriors, partners Sea Life Trust, Reef Check Australia and EnviroCom, and sponsor Unitywater.
Special thanks to Steven and Joanne Willems from SJW Mushrooms from Chevallum who donated 20kg of mushrooms to the BBQ event and to Bakers Delight Mooloolaba and Dicky Beach Meats who supported by supplying their products plastic free.