Tide 'N' Tied

An ocean debris display by Roslyn Hanlon

Ballaraat Room

Wednesday 31 March 2021 9:00AM -
Sunday 18 July 2021 5:00PM

In 2018 I began collecting ropes and fishing tackle (ocean debris) washed ashore on our local beaches. The purpose was to make several craft items such as outdoor mobile and rope hangings. While on our annual Rottnest Island holiday the same year, I purchased the “Ocean Geographic” magazine and read some interesting articles about ocean debris - a growing global issue.

After our first winter storm June 2019 whilst walking along our beach, it was confronting to see the small Plover shore birds pecking the Busselton jetty swim caps and other soft plastics on the shoreline.  Also, alarming was the vast array of ocean debris that had washed up.  I filled two shopping bags over a one kilometre stretch of beach. 

This was the catalyst in making my decision to join Tangaroa Blue as a volunteer – an Australian organisation that coordinates beach clean-ups/activities/education regarding marine debris.  The organisation created the online Australian Marine Debris Initiative.  A database for marine debris to be recorded by individuals/groups and tracked nationally by scientists, governments etc. 

In April 2011, our family holidayed in Queensland. We visited Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo and veterinary clinic.  The clinic walls were adorned with graphic pictures of marine life entangled in ocean debris.  Later that year we holidayed on Rottnest Island, when I first became aware of Tangaroa Blue as the organisation was seeking volunteers to remove and analyse ocean debris at Pinky’s Beach.  Remembering the disturbing images at Steve’s clinic we were all keen to assist. 

Through my upbringing I have always been mindful of the impact ocean debris/litter has on our environment, therefore removing and disposing of it appropriately. 

From June 2019 until October 2019, I carried out regular beach clean ups, recording my findings etc.  I was curious to see how much I had collected and photographed the result.  The amount and variety of debris was overwhelming.  Each year I have noticed an increase in foreign beverage bottles and food containers washing up, likely to have been tossed overboard from ships.  The debris was then boxed up for appropriate disposal by the City of Busselton.

During COVID 2020 I averaged about two clean ups per week.  In late May we experienced the storm of the decade which caused extreme high tides, considerable erosion, and a significant amount of ocean debris.  In early June, a net was placed by an ocean side public rubbish bin containing a dead sea bird that had obviously been strangled in it.  Earlier in February I observed a pelican with a 3-gang fishing lure caught in its beak at the Busselton jetty.  This was distressing to see. 

Although our beaches may appear pristine, we do not see what is Iurking beneath the sea with floating debris causing enormous havoc on our marine life.  I have removed large pieces of ocean debris such as carpet, sandbags, cloth webbing, a heavy haulage sling, tyres, windsurf sail etc. 

At our local beach we have a resident pod of dolphins/stingrays that swim close to shore and this a good reason to remove any harmful debris that washes up or pick up litter left at the beach.  Shorebird numbers are in decline, a contributing factor is the plastics they are ingesting.

So began my project “Tide ‘n’ Tied” making displays centring around washed up drop (crab) nets and tying each of the nets to a debris theme.  I hope this visual display will raise awareness of this worldwide problem, drawing people’s attention and to become mindful about the negative affect/impact ocean debris has, particularly single use plastics that has added to our ongoing global pollution issues.  When you visit the beach remember the message “Take 3 by the Sea “– three pieces of debris that you can pick up and prevent impacting on our marine/wildlife.  It does not take a great deal of effort.

We all need to take greater care of our ocean environment.

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