International Coastal Cleanup data will help to identify litter sources

International Coastal Cleanup was celebrated around the world on Saturday 16 September 2017. At uShaka Beach, in front of uShaka Sea World, 300 learners, their teachers, SAAMBR staff and volunteers joined Woolworths staff and their families to focus on collecting small pieces of litter and microplastics.

School friends Moya Mavie, Kuanda Sibisi, Fadzai Jimha, Melissa Mavie and Samantha Jimha do their bit for International Coastal Cleanup. (Image: SAAMBR)

Once all the litter had been collected, participants carefully sorted through it to record everything on specially designed data sheets. The data will be sent to Ocean Conservancy for inclusion in the International Coastal Cleanup database. The global initiative is not just about cleaning up the world's beaches; it is also about identifying the type and source of litter in order to address the source of the problem.

At various locations in Durban more than 2 000 volunteers spent time on the city's beaches, rivers banks and estuaries, playing a vital role in keeping plastic out of the ocean. Plastic poses many dangers to animals at sea: it becomes entangled in marine debris, marine creatures eat it and die, or their bodies gradually become contaminated by ingested plastic.

In 1960, plastic was found in the stomachs of less than 5% of sampled seabirds. This figure has now risen to more than 60%, and if we do not change our littering behaviour soon, all of our seabirds will have eaten plastic.

Melissa Mavie, a Grade 9 learner from Rossburgh High School, spent time at uShaka Beach huddled over the beach looking for small pieces of plastic in the sand.

“I don’t like to see litter as it does not make me feel good. I would like to live in a clean city as tourists don’t like to visit a dirty place, and litter is really bad for the animals that live in the ocean. I am proud to be doing my part in solving the problem and having fun at the same time with my friends,” said Melissa.

The tiny fingers of six-year-old Phiwokuhle Ngcobo and four-year-old Aphelele Maphumulo were adept at picking up tiny pieces of plastic. (Image: SAAMBR)

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