Wilderness cleanup as part of International Coastal Cleanup

About 30 people braved the icy sea breeze on Saturday to take part in the beach cleanup that forms part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup, initiated by the Ocean Conservancy, coordinated by John Kieser from PlasticSA and WESSA’s Eden Branch. Initially advertised as ‘The Kaaimans beach cleanup’ we had to move at the last moment due to concerns that we’d be bottle-necking on the small pathway down to Kaaimans beach with 100 runners who were doing the diathlon, as well as the resulting lack of parking.

Wearing t-shirts from the global 350.org climate action event that happened on 8 September, and armed with our bags and data collecting forms, we set of into different directions on Wilderness beach to see what we can find. The documentation of our finds are sent to the Ocean Conservancy who create annual cleanup reports that give us a clear indication of the extent of ocean pollution – read more about it at oceanconservancy.org.

Even though the beach in front of the NSRI station looked clean at first glance, we collected a lot of rubbish! This included 394 cigarette butts, 682 small pieces of plastic, 47 straws, 79 plastic bottle caps and 16 pieces of fishing line which could easily entangle or strangle marine animals. The data was tallied and submitted via the Ocean Conservancy’s Cleanswell App – an app that anyone can download and use to document trash collected on beaches, rivers and other waterways, and in this way contribute to the research. We also collected under the Touw river bridge and next to the highway – bottles, wrappers, food packaging and other items that could easily wash into the river and the ocean during heavy rains or with strong wind conditions.

Thank you to WESSA Eden branch, WESSA beach stewards, the Girl Guides from George, 350.org, PlasticsSA, Green Zandla and everyone else who joined, participated and contributed! The Wilderness artist community was well represented by local artists Janet Botes (who acted as coordinator for the cleanup), Ingrid Nuss and Hein Botha. The Green Campus Forum from Nelson Mandela University were incidentally cleaning on the same stretch, and collectively we made a great impact! A thank you also goes out to those who decided to stay and clean Kaaimans beach.

Photos by: Pierre Bezuidenhout