Winter has finally passed and we are into SPRING! We have been working with various organisations, educational institutes, land managers and companies to ensure a cleaner bay and healthier ecosystem over the cold months and we are looking forward to an exciting summer with lots of exposure for the Caring For Our Bays Program.
(Above image - I found these plastics on the Ocean Grove shoreline at 6W. I decided to stop and sift through the high tide line and I was surprised at how much litter there is, especially plastics along the entire shoreline, this was collected in just 20m of randomly picked shoreline!)
Be A Local Hero Campaign.
Starting this month the Caring For Our Bays campaign to reduce litter and increase awareness of the problem will be rolled out across Geelong and the Bellarine. Educational posters, Connies Cards and signage around our litter hotspots are at the center of the program.
The Be A Local Hero Campaign focuses on Corio Bay and Port Phillips 'Hero' animals and how litter affects their environment. Five animals including the endemic Burrunan Dolphin, Victorias marine emblem the Weedy Seadragon, the beautiful Australasian Gannet, the Australian Fur Seal and the Hero of the Waterways that run into Port Phillip, the Growling Grass Frog. Stunning images compliment simple messages that are aimed to spark and interest in what lives beneath the water and start to understand the affect litter has on these incredible animals.
Over the summer you may start to notice our signage around boat ramps and on stormwater drains around the region.
If you see our signs and recognize them, please send us a picture and tell us where you spotted it!
For more information on this campaign and for usage rights for your own infrastructure contact Jarrod Boord or Matt Crawley at the Bellarine Catchment Network.
(Representation of what the Be A Hero stickers might look like on the bins)
The Be A Local Hero Campaign Posters displayed at Bellarine Secondary College.
The Bellarine Secondary College Year 8 Environment Day
was recently held in August. The 11th consecutive year saw approximately 200 students participate in sessions delivered by environment industry experts. Sessions included Caring For Our Bays, Water Watch, Fisheries and Threatened species under the theme of Biodiversity in Your Backyard.
Students were able to participate in a number of sessions and this led to a greater understanding of the environment industry and natural values of the Bellarine, along with the threats to these values.
This events is a partnership between Bellarine Secondary College, Barwon Coast COM, Bellarine Catchment Network and Supported by Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre, CCMA WaterWatch, Wadawurrung Corporation, Bellarine Landcare Group.
This picture says more than a 1000 words. This is one of the reasons why we aim to reduce litter entering Port Phillip Bay.
Fishing line leader wrapped around the pelicans leg caused it be tangled and would have died a horrible death hanging from the tree. Congratulations to John Fyfe and team for saving this bird!
Clean up under St. Leonards Pier.
A fantastic turn out for our first underwater clean up and litter audit. Although it was cold in the water I was very impressed with the turn out and commitment from everyone to help protect and look after our wonderful bay.
This is just the first of many dives to come. We will try to make most of them in the warmer months where possible!
A summary of our clean up can be found here
We collected over 400m of fishing line, batteries, lures, plastics and garden hose. A fantastic effort considering the poor visibility and cool weather.
As this was our first event, we have a few new protocols we will implement for future clean ups and worth noting if you decide to do your own underwater clean up.
- Have 1 person in charge of all rubbish collected and manage it. No one else to sort through rubbish, this person should be wearing gloves and be on high alert for dangerous marine animals. Especially blue ringed octopus. This person should also have a container for collecting them if found. Bystanders not to touch rubbish or debris.
- Have containers with salt water ready for any marine animals found in litter/debris. These should be returned to the water once collected.
- Count marine animals collected with rubbish and what has been returned successfully and what may have perished.
If you have any suggestions or questions about the clean up, we would love to hear from you.
Thank you once again for giving up your Saturday to help the environment.
We have some photos up on our facebook site, with more to come soon. Future events will also be posted here, so please like the page and keep updated.
Did you know?
Microplastics are defined as plastics that are smaller than 5mm
There are 3 types of microplastics
Primary Microplastics - Plastics produces for cosmetic scrubs, toothpastes, body soaps. Plastic resin pellets are also primary microplastics, these are plastic in the raw form before being moulded into their final shape. These are sometimes called 'Nurdles'.
Secondary Microplastics - Plastics that break down to small pieces. Such as plastic bottles, eventually they break up into smaller pieces until they end up as microplastics. They never leave the environment and get smaller and smaller until they can enter the food chain.
Threads - These come from polyester clothing such as polar fleece. Every time you wash a polar fleece jumper, around 200 plastic threads are washed into the ocean. They are too small for treatment plants to filter out before entering the ocean.
Microplastics act as 'magnets' in the ocean. They attract Persistant Organic Polluntants (POPs) such as Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and small marine animals eat these plastics mistakenly for food. PCB's are toxic to fish, killing them at higher doses and causing spawning failures at lower doses. They eat the plastic resulting in bioaccumulation of these carcinogenic pollutants and they travels up the food chain.
The USA has introduced a law that prevents microplastics in cosmetics in 2017. Alternatives are being used, such as ground apricot seeds and coconut shells. There is not need for microplastics in cosmetics. Australia is yet to ban microplastics in cosmetics.
Green army is soldiering on through the cold weather.
The Caring For Our Bays project has enlisted the help of the Green Army to conduct litter audits around our hotspots on the Bellarine. Our newest hotspot is Burnt Point. Parks Victoria has partnered with us to enable the group to clean up this stunning location. Parks have also agreed to support our signage of the Be A Hero Campaign at Burnt Point to help reduce litter in this area. The aim of the litter audit at Burnt Point is to determine the most problematic litter at this location and this will give us the data to tackle this problem. The solution may include improved infrastructure and amenity in the area.
Microplastics Working Group
On 12 July the Caring for our Bays Coastal Coordinator Jarrod Boord attended a workshop on Microplastics and their impacts on Port Phillip bay and its catchments. A varied group including a researcher from RMIT, a citizen science expert from the EPA, a representative from the Australian Packaging Covenant, Neil Blake from the EcoCentre and representatives from Sustainability Victoria came together to determine a pathway to collect data, research and analyse the sources and impacts of mircoplastics in our local waters. A focus of the day was to determine how to collect qualitative and plentiful data whilst using a robust research method as there is no current peer reviewed scientific paper determining the impacts and sources of microplastics in port phillip bay. The day ended with a project aim, potential project partners, a target audience and researchers who were willing and excited about the project. Stay tuned for more updates.
Want to learn more about what happens to pollution and plastics when it enters the ocean?