International Coastal Clean Up Day is a global movement started over 30 years ago by the Ocean Conservancy with communities rallying together with the common goal of collecting and documenting the trash littering the coastline. This year’s theme is: Harnessing the Power of People to Fight Ocean Trash.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) and the Overstrand Municipality arranged a clean-up at Danger Point. Each area has a different signature in terms of what washes up, and all items collected are documented to assess the issues that may arise. In South Africa, PlasticsǀSA collates all information and this is fed into the global stats held by Ocean Conservancy.

This year’s clean-up was well attended with 36 adults and 45 children – this consisted of Councillor Riana de Coning, staff of ecotourism companies Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises; volunteers and interns from Marine Dynamics Academy;  DICT’s  Environmental Education Programme known as DEEP; the  Grootbos  Foundation  Education Programme Dibanisa; the Overstrand Car Club in full force; and other members of the public. In all, a distance of 1km was covered, and 246kgs of waste was collected filling 48 bags plus some large items. The worst offender was a bucket of grease that originated from Japan. This would have probably been discarded from a ship. The usual top offenders were collected – straws/sticks (175), bottle caps (204), food wrappers (249), plastic bottles (302).

DICT’s educator Pinkey Ngewu says, “Whilst it is clear we need better waste management and education around the topic, the best we can do is to remove the trash that has an impact on our marine wildlife. When trash enters the ocean, animals mistake it for food.  As an example, when a sea turtle sees a floating plastic bag, it thinks it’s a jellyfish and swallows it.  The plastic bag prevents the turtle from eating and causes it to slowly starve to death. We have seen this with African penguins as well, an endangered species.  Beach Clean Up’s raise public awareness about the threats of debris and make us mindful of how we dispose of our litter.  People feel a sense of satisfaction after a clean-up and it is a perfect family bonding opportunity too.  Special thanks to Benjamin Kondokter of the Overstrand Municipality for all the logistical arrangements and to all those who assisted with this big clean up.”