April 28th saw a hive of activity early at the Port Douglas Coast Guard as volunteers started arriving for the Low Isles & Woody Island Clean Up event. An amazing show of community spirit meant that volunteers had reserved all seats available with another 10 volunteers on a standby list ready to take any spots that became available!
With the weather gods being kind and only 15kts of wind blowing a flotilla of boats made their way out to Low Isles and then smaller vessels ferried everyone over to Woody Island.
Woody Island is a mangrove covered shingle cay next to Low Isles and is closed between September and March as a large population of pied imperial (or Torres Strait) pigeons live and breed on the island. This was the first time since the pigeons had departed that we had been on the island, so everyone was very interested to see what we would find.
The windward side of the island is where the south-east winds normally throw up a lot of debris and that is where the volunteer effort was focused, and as the bags started to come back it was clear this was going to be another monster haul!!
49 volunteers & 8 boat crew members involved - thank you to the Port Douglas Coast Guard, Windswell, Sailaway, Wavedancer, Reefsprinter, OutnAbout, Sam Dibella and Guy Ely for their boats and crew!
637kg of marine debris was removed – A huge effort by all volunteers! A special mention goes to Tara Wheatland, Chris Witty and Sam Dibella who hauled over 400kg of debris stuck up in the mangroves – awesome effort!
70 sausages enjoyed – thank you to Malone's Butchery for their donation of yummy sausages!
Thanks to Andrew Solomon and members of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji community who came out and assisted with the clean up. Andrew Solomon said about the day: "As part of our responsibility as custodians of this land to take care of our Bubu (country), members of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji participated in the Woody Island Clean Up. Working together with other volunteers helps to strengthen our relationship between the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people and the wider community and we look forward to having more of our mob attending future beach clean up events."
And thanks also goes to Low Isles Caretakers Jenni & Wayne Fox, Low Isles Preservation Society, Envirofund, Cairns Regional Council and all the volunteers – what a day!
The Woody Island Clean Up and ongoing monitoring clean ups on Lows Isles are part of the Australian Marine Debris Initiative which is an on-ground program that removes marine debris from around the Australian coastline and collects data on what is found. This data is submitted into the Australian Marine Debris Database which is used to identify the sources and solutions to marine debris in an effort to improve the health of both the marine and coastal environments.