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Whitsunday 2014 Clean Up

19th December 2014

Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing 
Grimston Point, Mainland

Being the very last trip for the year we decided to return to Grimston Point, a location on the mainland that is known to accumulate debris directly from Airlie Beach. There are also generally a lot of boat pieces found at this location, and today was no exception. The extremely hot weather conditions this time of year created a huge challenge for our determined volunteers, but they managed to fill the barge before 12:30 - an amazing effort by all involved!

12 volunteers
570 kgs collected

5th December 2014

Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing 
South Molle Island

In our second to last trip for the year we decided to return to South Molle as it had been just over three months since we had managed to clean all the beaches on this island in a single day. There was much less marine debris to be found on the beaches, which was particularly obvious to our long-term volunteers that remembered being stuck on just one beach for hours. The sheer number of south-east facing beaches on South Molle still kept our volunteers busy, but once again we were able to leave knowing that every single beach had been cleaned! 

12 volunteers
275 kgs collected

18th - 21st November 2014

Cruise Whitsundays - EXPEDITION 
Shaw, Thomas, Repulse and Maher Islands

The southern Whitsunday Islands are known to be highly impacted by marine debris, being the first point of contact as debris enters the Whitsunday region with the south-east trade winds. However, they are also the most difficult to clean due to their distance from Airlie Beach. A four day expedition, based at Linderman Island, was therefore determined to be the most effective way to target these beaches. The efforts of the expedition team were unbelievable with 2.7 tonne of marine debris being removed from only 10 beaches!

12 volunteers
2,748 kgs collected

15th November 2014

Reef Catchments 
Gumbrell Island and George's Point

It was time to head north again with the long rocky beach on Gumbrell Island and the first two targeted beaches at George's Point having surprisingly little debris. It was a slightly different story on the third beach though with 154 kilograms of marine debris removed in addition to a 120 kilogram dingy that had definitely seen better days. With only three trips remaining for 2014 the minimal marine debris continues to highlight the difference the Whitsunday Marine Debris Removal Program is making for the region.

10 volunteers
314 kgs collected

30th October 2014

BMC and Charter Yachts Australia 
Hamilton and Whitsunday Islands

The continuation of the steady weather meant we were able to finish the month with one last trip, bringing our total to 36 marine debris removal trips being run in 2014. This number of trips has resulted in the Program achieving an amazing coverage of the Whitsunday region this year, with all of the bays and beaches having now being targeted by a marine debris removal trip and this reflecting in the smaller amount of marine debris that is currently being removed per trip. This is a great result and puts us in a great position to tackle all the newly arriving marine debris that occurs with the harsher weather conditions each wet season.

11 volunteers
177 kgs collected

27th October 2014

Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing
Dumbell and Border Islands

Today marks an amazing milestone, being the 150th trip since the launch of the Whitsunday Marine Debris Removal Program in July 2009!! We also released 'Bunny" after this beautiful little green turtle had returned to full health after being cared for in the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre. With so many amazing achievements occurring we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers, partners and sponsors for their invaluable support over the years!

11 volunteers
224 kgs collected

26th October 2014

BMC 
Saba Bay, Hook Island

It seems like every time we go to Saba Bay there is a plentiful amount of rubbish to collect, and today was no different, with our data indicating that this is definitely the most impacted Bay in the Whitsunday region. Our volunteers therefore had their work cut out for them, but they were all up to the challenge. Marine debris was removed from all six beaches, including the aptly named 'Heartbreaker Beach' that is always covered with rubbish!

11 volunteers
305 kgs collected

23rd October 2014

David Edge Marine Contracting 
A quick trip was undertaken to Grimston Point to collect marine debris to be used for the upcoming ReefBlitz.

75 kgs collected

26th September 2014

Reef Catchments 
Gloucester Island

The great weather conditions today allowed us to return to Gloucester Island to finish what we started earlier in the month and clean the marine debris from the remaining beaches. These four beaches were much less impacted than the two that were targeted on our last trip, but with the debris mainly consisting of really small plastic pieces, each beach took a long time to clean. The last two trips have therefore removed 398 kilograms of debris from Gloucester Island, which equates to only about 33 kilograms per month accumulating on these beaches, and suggests that we only need to target this hotspot once a year to deal with the newly arriving marine debris.

12 volunteers
125 kgs collected 

11th September 2014

BMC 
Rattray and Gloucester Islands

With a second day of perfect weather we decided to head north, as it was over a year since we last cleaned the beaches of these islands. The beach on Rattray Island is relatively small, so our volunteers made quick work of removing the 92 kilograms of primarily plastic debris before we moved on to two extremely impacted beaches on Gloucester Island. A huge 273 kilograms of marine debris was removed before we had to head for home, but with six beaches still left to clean, we will have to return to Gloucester again soon.

9 volunteers
365 kgs collected

10th September 2014

BMC 
Turtle Bay and Solace Bay, Whitsunday Island

Finally a glass out!!! So it was with great excitement that we were able to get back out on the water and continue the job of cleaning the highly impacted bays on Whitsunday Island. Our first stop was Turtle Bay, with three beaches being targeted and 112 kilograms of marine debris being removed. We then could not resist the opportunity provided by the combination of good weather and good tides to head to the beautiful Solace Bay where a surprisingly little amount of marine debris was removed from an additional three beaches.

11 volunteers
160 kgs collected 

27th August 2014

Reef Catchments 
Long Island

Thankfully the wind eased off enough to allow us to undertake another marine debris removal trip, this time for our amazing STARFISH sponsor Reef Catchments. We had a smaller number of volunteers on today, with everyone doing an amazing job of removing marine debris from two long and highly impacted beaches at the bottom of Long Island. Given that these beaches were cleaned only six months (to the day) earlier, the amount of re-accumulated marine debris was quite surprising.

9 volunteers
305 kgs collected

20th August 2014

Everyone's Environment Grants 
South Molle Island

The weather has been incredibly difficult this month, but we were finally able to get out on the water again for our final trip thanks to the funding that we recieved from Everyone's Environment Grants. The pressure was really on with limited cleaning time available due to the out-going tide, but the volunteers really stepped up to the occasion removing the marine debris from every impacted beach on South Molle in only 3 and a half hours!! This is a remarkable result and really does show the long-term difference that the Whitsunday Marine Debris Removal Program is making for the region. None of our achievements would be possible without the efforts of our amazing volunteers and being able to spend a few extra hours on the beach enjoying our efforts was a special bonus of the trip today!

12 volunteers
388 kgs collected

1st August 2014

Everyone's Environment Grants 
Genesta Bay, mainland

We decided to return to Genesta Bay to try and finish the job of removing marine debris from this very long, and highly impacted beach. It soon became obvious that it would take us the whole day on this beach alone, with our amazing volunteers getting a great workout as they walked the many kilometres up and down the beach while carrying their bags of marine debris. It was definitely Eco Boot Camp today!! It was also fantastic to have an independent film crew on-board for the day to experience and take some footage of one of our marine debris removal trips. 

12 volunteers
410 kgs collected

17th July 2014

Everyone's Environment Grants 
Mackeral Bay, Hook Island

Today we decided to return to Mackeral Bay to focus on the beaches that we ran out of time to target during our trip in June. This bay is definitely not for the faint-hearted with lots of small rocky beaches collecting lots of larger plastic items and an extraordinary amount of rope. We had last targeted this hotspot in November last year, with approximately 600 kilograms collecting on these beaches in the six months - a positive result that indicates we need to return to this location twice a year to deal with the current rate of accumulation.

12 volunteers
356 kgs collected

10th July 2014

Everyone's Environment Grants 
Chance and Solace Bays, Whitsunday Island

With the amazing weather allowing back-to-back trips we decided to once again target Whitsunday Island, but to focus on some of the more easterly bays. A total of three beaches were cleaned in a great effort by the volunteers with plastic being the usual suspect, however some large pieces of sawn timber and lengths of heavy weight mooring line were also found. It was noticeable that these beaches had accumulated much bigger and heavier items than was found yesterday, suggesting that the lighter debris drifts further up towards Fitzalan Pass, while the heavy and less buoyant items are thrown up on the beaches closer to Solway Passage by the prevailing winds.

11 volunteers
416 kgs collected

9th July 2014

Everyone's Environment Grants 
Turtle Bay, Whitsunday Island

Today was the first trip out of five that we will be running thanks to retained funding from our project with Everyone's Environment Grants. With absolutely stunning conditions on the water we headed to Turtle Bay and our ever enthusiastic volunteers proceeded to clean three beaches before the outgoing tide made further access impossible. 'Backbreaker' beach again left its mark with all of the volunteers due to the unbelievable concentration of plastic pieces that seem to accumulate at this location, ranging from large drums, soft plastics and millions of tiny plastic fragments - it is lucky this beach is quite short or we would never be able to get it clean in a day!

12 volunteers
196 kgs collected

28th June 2014

Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing 
Saba and Mackeral Bays, Hook Island

Another beautiful day and another trip made possible thanks to our partnership with the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing. Our target location today was two bays at Hook Island that unfortunately seem to accumulate marine debris much faster than we are able to remove it, with the aptly named 'heartbreaker' beach once again living up to its name with huge amounts of both hard and soft plastic items found littering the entire length of this beach. As usual our volunteers all worked extremely hard to  remove the debris, but we are obviously going to have to target these particular locations more often to keep on top of the incredibly high rate of accumulation on these beaches.    

12 volunteers
426 kgs collected

24th June 2014

Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing 
South Molle, Hamilton and Whitsunday Islands

Today consisted of almost glass-out conditions, but the difficult tide resulted in the beaches of three different islands being the targeted throughout the day. These three islands have been the focus of many marine debris removal trips over the years, however, the extremely large number of beaches mean there are always locations found that are still full of rubbish. This is particularly true of the many small beaches that are found in Driftwood Bay on the south-east side of the Hamilton Island Airport. All the usual items of light-weight plastic were removed, however, the last beach turned out to be a veritable thong mine leading to many interesting hypotheses concerning the cause of the seemingly great number of thong-less individuals that must roaming the planet!

12 volunteers
186 kgs collected

21st June 2014

Reef Catchments 
Genesta Bay, mainland

It is always very exciting when we are able to explore new hotspot locations, with Genesta Bay having never previously been targeted with a marine debris removal trip. It was therefore no surprise to find that this picturesque beach, complete with white sand and coconut trees was loaded with marine debris!! Our volunteers worked extremely hard and removed a huge amount of rubbish, but this is an extremely long beach with only about one third being able to be cleaned before it was time to head for home. We will therefore aim to return to this beautiful location again in the near future to finish the job.

10 volunteers
422 kgs collected

3rd June 2014

Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation 
Gumbrell Island and George's Point

We again took advantage of the smallest break in the weather so that we could target our very last hotspot location for our project with the Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation.  It had been 180 days since we last got to this beach, and it definitely showed, with more kilograms removed than any of our previous monitoring trips. 177 kilograms of debris was removed before we continued to George's Point where we removed a further 96 kilograms from two beaches. Thank you again to the amazing volunteers, who not only worked extremely hard, but also put up with the wet and wild conditions on the way home!

11 volunteers
273 kgs collected

Julian Smallwood

Armit Island 
19 kgs collected

28th May 2014

Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation 
South Molle and Long Islands

We finally got a break in the weather and were able to target four more hotspot beaches for our Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation project. 211 kilograms of marine debris was removed from the two South Molle beaches, which is almost exactly the same amount that was removed on the previous trip in February. Amazingly, the two beaches on Long Island contained only 42 kilograms of marine debris, which was much less than the trip in February, with a 22 kilogram buoy also being removed off the rocks between the two hotspot beaches. The pressure was really on to get to all of these hotspot beaches in the one day, so a huge thank you to all the volunteers for their extremely hard work to make this possible!

11 volunteers
275 kgs collected

10th May 2014

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 
South Molle Island

It was with great pleasure today that we were able to take six Australian Awards Fellows from Mexico and two members of GBRMPA to Roma Point on South Molle to show them the impacts of marine debris in the Whitsunday region and have them contribute to debris removal. The group picked up more than 80 kg of rubbish on the beach, a remarkable amount since only three months had passed since this small beach had last been cleaned! Our visitors were able to appreciate the need for the Whitsunday Marine Debris Removal Program to be constant and on-going to protect our precious marine life from the serious impacts of marine debris. Once the beach was cleared of all marine debris, the group headed back for a tour of Eco Barge HQ and the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre, where it was lucky enough to meet ‘Delilah’, a beautiful green turtle that is currently in care and hear the amazing story of the establishment and growth of Eco Barge.

11 volunteers
81 kgs collected

2nd May 2014

Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation 
Hazelwood and Whitsunday Islands

The trip today was another second monitoring trip for our Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation project, with 134 kilograms of marine debris being collected from both hotspot beaches. This was again more debris was found then on our last trip, but less than was collected on our initial trip, with the extreme weather at the start of the year being believed to be the cause of the increased quantity of debris that is being found on the beaches across the region. An additional 119 kilograms was also cleared from an extra beach in White Bay and 71 kilograms was removed from our stunning lunch site in Crayfish Bay.

10 volunteers
324 kgs collected

1st May 2014

Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation 
Shaw and Henning Islands

Today was the first of our second lot of monitoring trips for our project to determine the rate of returning marine debris at specific hotspot locations. It had been 147 days since we had last targeted this beach, with lots of extreme weather earlier in the year, so we had no idea what we would find. More debris was found then on our last trip, however, still not as much as was collected on our initial trip. Highlighting that this monitoring work really does seem to be successful in decreasing the quantity of debris at these hotspots. It always seems to be small, broken pieces of marine debris on this beach though, meaning the 205 kilograms collected really does not reflect the effort put in by our amazing volunteers. Two large tyres were also removed from our beautiful lunch spot at Henning Island.

8 volunteers
347 kgs collected

28th March 2014

Cruise Whitsundays  - UNDERWATER MARINE DEBRIS 
Dumbell and Border Island

It was with a bit of sadness that we undertook our very last underwater marine debris removal trip today. After diving two moorings at Dumbell Island we decided to return to Cateran Bay on Border Island to see what may have been missed during the previous dive trip. Very little debris was found at both locations, with snorkels (6) being the most common item found, followed by glass bottles (4) and sinkers (4). Thank you to all the divers that were involved in our 12 trips to focus on underwater marine debris - hopefully more funding for such trips will come our way soon! This trip provided data for our Everyone's Environment Grants project.

5 volunteer divers
40 kgs collected

27th March 2014

Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing
Gumbrell Island and Georges Point

With the weather blowing the strongest 10 knots we had ever seen our plan for this trip continued to change as we assessed which beaches would be safe to disembark our precious volunteers. Every time we target Gumbrell Island we tend to focus on the long rocky beach on the south-east side, however, we noticed during our lunch break at the end of last year that the sandy beach on the southern side of the island was also highly impacted. 211 kilograms of marine debris was removed from this beach, including a large tyre weighing in at 114 kilos. We then removed a further 96 kilograms from a small beach on Georges Point, before deciding to call it a day as the wind continued to increase. A huge thank you to our enthusiastic volunteers that were determined to not let the weather conditions get the better of them and their goal to remove as much marine debris as possible!

7 volunteers
307 kgs collected

23rd March 2014

Everyone's Environment Grants - UNDERWATER MARINE DEBRIS
Bali Hai

Another weekend with beautiful weather allowed us to head out again to remove underwater marine debris, with our divers again being spoilt by dive site with the trip today targeting Black Island (Bali Hai). Less debris was found than the previous week, however, our divers still removed 11 aluminium cans and 10 glass bottles, as well as various pieces of fishing and snorkelling related rubbish. Today was the second to last dive trip through our funding from Everyone's Environment Grants, but we are really hoping that we will be able to secure continued funding to allow the volunteer divers to continue being engaged in the important work of removing marine debris from the Whitsunday Islands.

7 volunteer divers
30 kgs collected

16th March 2014

Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing
Hamilton and Whitsunday Islands

While the divers on Nunga enjoyed the crystal clear waters at Border Island, our team of volunteers on Eco Barge targeted one beach on Hamilton Island, removing 143 kilograms of marine debris from a previously untargeted beach in Driftwood Bay, before heading to Solace Bay on Whitsunday Island to remove a further 134 kilograms of debris from two beaches. The beautiful conditions made it extremely hot on the beaches, so after filling the barge we decided to treat our volunteers to a Sunday lunch on Whitehaven Beach - just one of the amazing perks of being an Eco Barge volunteer! This trip also provided data for our Everyone's Environment Grants project.

12 volunteers
277 kgs collected

16th March 2014

Everyone's Environment Grants - UNDERWATER MARINE DEBRIS
Cataran Bay, Border Island

With stunning weather forecast over the weekend we were able to undertake another double run, with Nunga and our volunteer divers making the most of the picture perfect weather by targeting the beautiful Cateran Bay. The conditions in the water were stunning, but the divers did not lose focus with an amazing 131 pieces of marine debris being removed, including 49 glass bottles. This number of pieces definitely broke all previous records for these underwater marine debris removal trips!

6 volunteer divers
70 kgs collected

27th February 2014

Reef Catchments
Long Island

Eco Barge was able to support a special trip today for Reef Catchments' Project Catalyst partners WWF (USA and Honduras), Bayer Crop Science and Sygenta. The trip fell on the best weather of the week, but the winds still did place restrictions on the beaches that we were able to target. After picking the volunteers up from Hamilton Island we focused on cleaning two impacted south-east facing beaches on Long Island, with our enthusiastic team taking only a couple of hours to remove all the debris from these beaches. It was another great day out in the Whitsundays, with not a single piece of marine debris missing the eagle eye of these volunteers!

10 volunteers
124 kgs collected

17th February 2014

Caring for our Country
Grimston Point

After running for four days straight the crew was tiring, but our energetic volunteers jumped to the task of removing marine debris from the last Caring for our Country monitoring beaches on Grimston Point. We were again surprised by the amount of rubbish that had accumulated on the two beaches, and the extremely hot conditions actually resulted in us having to abandon the task before all the debris could be removed from the final beach. A huge thank you to the volunteers that put in such an amazing effort to try and get this beach completely clean - we will go back and finish the job later in the year when the weather conditions are a bit more bearable!

8 volunteers
305 kgs collected

16th February 2014

Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation and Everyone's Environment Grants
South Molle and Hook Islands

With weather this good over the weekend we could not pass up the opportunity to undertake a DOUBLE RUN! Eco Barge and its team of volunteers targeted Saba Bay thanks to our project with Everyone's Environment Grants, while Nunga II focused on the two remaining South Molle monitoring beaches for our Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation project. The beaches in Saba Bay are generally highly impacted by marine debris and the volunteers made it look easy, removing 309 kilograms of marine debris from only two beaches. However, it was the team at South Molle that received the biggest surprise of the day with the two hotspot beaches being absolutely covered in marine debris, with 252 kilograms of debris being removed. This result is in contrast to the minimal marine debris that has been found at every other hotspot and highlights how important our longitudinal data will be to understand factors that may be contributing to the accumulation of marine debris within the Whitsundays. The day also included a special bonus, with "Kay" the turtle being released after spending six months in care since being discovered in poor condition near South Molle in August 2013.

19 volunteers
516 kgs collected

15th February 2014

Caring for our Country
Hamilton Island

It was our Hamilton Island hotspot location that was selected to be targeted today, with the varible winds in the morning making it a beautiful day out on the water. It was again amazing that only 44 kilograms had collected on the two monitoring beaches since it was last cleaned in February 2013. These beaches are both quite small and so were cleaned quickly, allowing our hard-working volunteers plenty of time to focus their attention on another highly impacted beach in Driftwood Bay that has never been the focus of a marine debris removal trip. 192 kilograms was removed, and then an additional 19 kilograms from a tiny beach on Perseverance Island.

8 volunteers
255 kgs collected

14th February 2014

Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation
Long and South Molle Islands

We had to wait until the middle of February, but we finally got a break in the weather and were able to target our Long Island hotspot location to see how much marine debris had returned since our last visit. We had no idea what to expect, especially after Cyclone Dylan and the tidal surges that were experienced. But the two hotspot beaches contained comparatively little debris, with only 114 kilograms removed from both beaches. Our plan was to target the South Molle hotspot on Sunday, but one of our target beaches can only be accessed at high tide, so we decided to clean this one today while the tides were in our favour. Again, this location had relatively little debris with another 80 kilograms being removed. The lack of wind made for an incredibly hot day, and our volunteers did an amazing job getting these three beaches cleaned in such conditions.

11 volunteers
194 kgs collected

21st January 2014

Caring for our Country 
Border Island

Another day of amazing weather, another Caring for our Country monitoring hotspot location and two more target beaches with only minimal marine debris! 72 kilograms of small plastic items were removed, with the remainder of the weight coming from the broken hull of a boat that the high tide allowed us to finally drag from the beach. We continue to be amazed at the lack of debris that is being found during these third monitoring trips and we look forward to continuing to get data from each of these locations to try and determine whether seasonal variation may explain the different rates of accumulation that are being observed.

10 volunteers
268 kgs collected

20th January 2014

Caring for our Country 
Saba Bay, Hook Island

Today we targeted the worst of the hotspot monitoring locations for the Caring for our Country project, with previous results suggesting that debris was accumulating in excess of 2 kilograms per day. It had been 9 months since we had last cleaned the two target beaches for this hotspot, and we were very curious how much rubbish would be waiting for us - especially on Heartbreaker Beach. Again though, to our great surprise the beaches were better than they had been on previous monitoring trips. 200 kilograms of light plastic items is still a lot of marine debris, but the cleaning of both beaches was much easier than it had been in the past, again showing how the Whitsunday Marine Debris Removal Program will hopefully be able to move into its monitoring phase later this year.

10 volunteers
205 kgs collected

19th January 2014

Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation 
Hazelwood Island

The perfect weather and tides allowed us to return to our Hazelwood Island hotspot location to see how much marine debris had reappeared since our last trip, and it was with amazement that we only removed 23 kilograms from both of the target beaches! One of these beaches had been so highly impacted by debris on our first trip that we were expecting quite a lot of rubbish there again, but as Eco Barge had never previously focused on this beach it appears that the rubbish was actually a result of many years of slow accumulation. This time of year it is so hot on the beaches, so our volunteers did an amazing job cleaning an additional three beaches, removing an extra 105 kilograms of debris.

9 volunteers
128 kgs collected

18th January 2014

Everyone's Environment Grant - UNDERWATER DEBRIS 
Langford Reef

With the winds starting to drop we were able to cross the passage to dive the moorings at the stunning Langford Reef. Six moorings were targeted with the strong current making it very difficult work for our divers. Only minimal marine debris was removed from this location, 42 pieces in total, with masks and snorkels being the most common item that was found. This is thought to be a great result as Langford Reef is an incredibly popular mooring and the lack of marine debris shows the care that all visitors are taking to protect this beautiful part of the Whitsundays.

7 volunteer divers
21 kgs collected

7th January 2014

Caring for our Country 
Turtle Bay, Whitsunday Island

We have received funding to undertake an additional trip to the five hotspot monitoring locations that were the focus of our Caring for our Country project in 2012-2013. Having not been to this hotspot location since April 2013 we were very pleasantlysurprised to find minimal marine debris on the four target beaches, with only 64 kilograms collected (compared with 358, 97 and 78 kgs for each of the previous three trips respectively). Cleaning these beaches was still very hard work as the majority of debris was very small pieces, with 1288 bottle tops being removed by our amazing volunteers. The amount of debris is still greatly reduced to what was present on these beaches when we began our monitoring trips and highlights the difference the Whitsunday Marine Debris Removal Program is making to Whitsunday Islands. An additional 41 kilograms of marine debris had been placed in a pile by Don Philpott for our collection - thanks Don!

10 volunteers
105 kgs collected






















































































Marine debris removed from the
Whitsunday islands since July 2009
= 153,152 kilograms