Cleaning up Te Waewae. Sea Shepherd’s southernmost marine debris clean-up?

Wednesday, 17 Oct, 2018

At 46 degrees south, in what may be Sea Shepherd’s southernmost marine debris clean-up, volunteers, Operation Pahu crew, locals and supporters converged on the eastern end of Te Waewae Bay and Monkey Island to remove rubbish including micro plastics from one of the most remote beaches in New Zealand. 

Te Waewae Bay is Operation Pahu crew’s favourite place to patrol and monitor the heath of one of New Zealand’s most iconic Pahu (Hector’s) subpopulations.  The approximately two hundred Pahu can usually be found at the far western side of Te Waewae near Port Craig. But this time, Sea Shepherd was targeting the plastic pollution seen on the eastern side. Over two hundred people including local media turned up on the first Saturday of October to make a difference to this beautiful remote slice of Aotearoa.

Sea Shepherd volunteers, Operation Pahu crew, locals and supporters converged on the eastern end of Te Waewae Bay (Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd).

Operation Pahu Campaign Leader, Grant Meikle, estimated about 250 kg of rubbish was collected around Monkey Island (Te Puka o Takitimu) near Orepuki on the coast of Te Waewae.

"There was a lot of blue strapping stuff - you could see the fibres. There were a lot of rubber rings that are used for lambs tails and shot gun wads that we guessed had come down the Waiau River and been washed up on the beach in the current.

"What was really surprising was the amount of small plastic pieces, or nurdles, that were washed up. There seems to be a beach full of them in each region depending on tides and this is one of those."

Grant said many conversations were held about innovative ideas on how to separate the sand from the micro plastics and they look forward to trialing these ideas next time. The local farming community can help by donating drums to assist with the process. Similar methods have recently been used by Sea Shepherd Wellington crew to clean up the thousands of plastic nurdles that continually wash up at Evans Bay in Wellington.

A big thank you to all the local Southlanders and supporters who turned up in their hundreds to help remove rubbish and plastic waste from this beautiful bay that is home to our favourite community of Pahu.

Lamb tailing rings washed down the rivers into the sea (Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd).
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