Who’s rubbishing our beaches?

Since 2007, islanders have demonstrated their commitment to cleaning up the marine environment by volunteering enthusiastically for the Kangaroo Island Beach Rubbish Survey. Coordinated by Natural Resources KI, with sponsorship from The Islander, the event aims to both clean-up our beaches, and identify the source of the rubbish collected. 

Analysis of beach rubbish from 2007-2013 found that marine debris makes up an average of 50-60 per cent of all rubbish found on Kangaroo Island’s beaches. 

Marine debris refers to rubbish that originates from the sea and is subsequently washed ashore, such as lost fishing gear, hard plastic (particularly bottles) and packing tape, all of which can be very harmful to marine life through entanglement or suffocation. 

Results confirmed that there are higher quantities of marine debris on south coast beaches, particularly Vivonne, Windmill and Flour Cask Bays, which act as sinks for marine debris drifting in from the southeast. 

Kangaroo Island’s reputation for having some of the most pristine coastal environments in the country is also at risk because of terrestrial litter, (that is land-based accidental or careless discarding of rubbish). 

Beaches with high visitor numbers or surrounded by urban areas had much higher concentrations of terrestrial litter. Brownlow Beach, Bay of Shoals and D’Estrees Bay are good examples of beaches where terrestrial litter consistently accounts for more than 75 per cent of the rubbish collected.

Barcodes from bottles and food wrappers were recorded and used to identify the exact source of rubbish items. 

As might be expected, the majority of rubbish collected originated from Australia (80 per cent), while 8 per cent of items came from Asia, 5 per cent from Europe and 3 per cent from the Americas. 

Continued community support for the Kangaroo Island Beach Rubbish Survey will help to keep our beaches free of rubbish and allow us to track changes in rubbish levels and distribution over time.

Thanks again to all those who helped remove more than 250kg of rubbish from our beaches on the Beach Clean Up day. We look forward to your participation again in 2015.

Bev Maxwell, Charlotte Aitken, Brenton Davis and Andy Young with rubbish they collected at Vivonne Bay

Bev Maxwell, Charlotte Aitken, Brenton Davis and Andy Young with rubbish they collected at Vivonne Bay