"This Project is Rubbish!" Update

Macro and micro debris study of the sediment surface using a selective sampling technique

So far twenty one sampling sessions have been conducted. Of these twenty one sampling sessions ten have been completed at site one which is the blue flag beach sampling site. Eleven sampling sessions have been completed at site two, the non- blue flag sampling site. The results from here on come from the months of March and April 2014. This includes seventeen sampling sessions of which eight were done at site one and nine at site two. The total amount of debris collected from both sites in terms of counts was 2464 items and 969.708 grams in terms of weight. In terms of counts 40.79% of the total debris was found at site one and 59.21% at site two. In terms of weights 50.48% of the total debris was found at site one and 49.52% at site two. Therefore at this early stage in the project, the blue flag beach does not seem any "cleaner" than the non- blue flag beach (in terms of the abundance of debris items). Looking at the debris groups (plastic, metal. glass, paper etc.) plastic had the highest numbers in terms of counts (2388 items which makes up 96.92 % of the total debris) followed by cigarette butts, paper and metal. In terms of weight, plastic contributed the most to the total weight of the sampled debris (747.332 grams or 77.07%). Plastic was followed by metal, wood and glass. The plastic debris group is then divided into plastic functional groups (lids, bottles, sweet wrappers, user items, unidentified plastic fragments etc.). For counts unidentified plastic fragments were the most abundant (1685 items making up 70.56% of the total plastic sampled). This was followed by user items, lids and sweet wrappers. In terms of weight unidentified plastic fragments contributed the most to the total weight for sampled plastic (333.368 grams or 44.65%). Unidentified plastic fragments were followed by user items, bags and lids. The distribution of debris for both sites combined was as follows. 78.72% of all sampled debris was found on the upper shore, 18.67% on the middle shore and 2.62% on the lower shore. The individual sites followed a very similar trend (majority of the debris being found on the upper shore and the east on the lower shore). Sampling continues twice a week every week. 

Micro debris study of the sediment using bulk sampling (cores)

So far two sampling sessions have been completed, one at site one and one at site two. Eighteen core samples have been taken, nine from each site. The core samples have not been processed yet. This is because the sample processing materials were being finalised. Now that this has been done, the processing can begin. The processing method involves sieving, density separation and visual examination. The next sampling session will take place in June.

Community awareness/education

We have recently been provided with ten line bins as a start to the line bin initiative from Plastics SA. Permission has been granted to the South African Shark Conservancy (SASC) to erect the line bins at popular fishing spots in Walker Bay by the Overstrand municipality. SASC will put up the line bins and take responsibility for cleaning and maintaining the bins on a regular basis. Potential sites for the placement of bins have been visited. Six initial sites have been chosen where the bins will be erected. This is a start; SASC hopes to put up more bins in the future if the initial group of bins proves to be successful. We are hoping to put the bins up in the next week or two as part of World Oceans Day.

SASC was involved with the Whale Coast Conservation "Sustainable Future Roadshow" over the past few weeks. The theme of the roadshow was "A Sustainable Future". SASC contributed to the Sustainable Seas: Marine Debris exhibit. The aim was to educate school students and others about marine debris, their impacts, sources and ways in which marine debris can be reduced. In total SASC was involved with four roadshow expos. These expos took place in different towns namely Gansbaai, Zwelihle, Hawston and Kleinmond. Many schools from these towns came to visit the roadshow. It was great that SASC could be part of the roadshow and it demonstrated the importance of community awareness and education. Looking forward, the roadshows culminate in a major sustainability fair over a weekend in July which SASC will be part of.