The travelling marine biologist - back in action in 2017!

By: Lauren Eyles
Date posted: 18 January 2017

Continuing my quest to help protect Australian marine life, I have been moving around New South Wales and Queensland attending and running events and sharing expertise with fellow colleagues. I kicked off the new year with a beach clean organised by Sea Shepard at Sirius Cove in Sydney. In just a couple of hours, 4000 items of litter were collected weighing 91 kg. Many of their practices and information given to volunteers was the same as the UK, as you would expect.

Lauren

This was the haul from the beach you can see in the background

I then ran a stall at Bondi beach with a lovely volunteer from the UK called Lucy as part of a summer event organised by the local council promoting the Sydney marine park, trying to get as many people to sign the campaign postcard as we could. We collected 35 in total. I should have said in the last post why this is so important. Sydney’s coastline is home to an amazing and unique mix of marine plants and animals, including the Weedy Sea Dragon which is only found in Southern Australia and no where else in the world. I was lucky enough to see one whilst diving off Manly just after Christmas. Like all over the planet, Marine life is feeling the pressure of fishing, pollution, climate change and development, yet less than 1% of Sydney’s oceans are protected. A marine park will provide the protection that is urgently needed, so we can carry on to see incredible animals like the Weedy Sea Dragon.

Many other organisations and charities were at the event - running a beach clean scavenger hunt and lots of local initiatives to encourage people to act sustainably. There was also a fashion show, all made of litter found on the beach. The day was boiling hot but I had a lovely swim afterwards amoungst some filming for the TV show Bondi rescue! They apparently film every day in the summer.

Lauren

Me and Lucy on the stall

Lauren

The litter fashion show having a picnic

AMCS HQ

I then made my way up to Queensland and the city of Brisbane where the head office is. I am just coming to the end of my time here and have really enjoyed being part of AMCS’s work and culture. The team here are so lovely and have made my stay feel so relaxed and welcoming with a lovely lunch send off too. :-)

Fight for the reef
I spent some time chatting with one of their Great Barrier Reef campaigners, Shannon understanding the huge pressures this iconic reef is suffering, the work that has happened so far and what is to come. It seems that 2017 is going to be a pivotal year fighting off the ever increasing threat of what could be the largest coal mine in the world called Adani’s Carmichael coal mine - expected to output 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over its lifetime: enough to build a road 1 metre thick, 10 metres wide and wrapped around the world 5 times. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal is one of the largest threats to the reef because it contributes so significantly to global warming. Considering last year the Great Barrier Reef experienced its worst coral bleaching event on record, it is vital that it’s stopped before its too late and our oceans reach their tipping point.

Lauren
Dead coral from 2016

Plastic Pollution

AMCS have achieved so much and work within an advocacy and community campaigning capacity. Marine plastic pollution is one of their work areas trying to ensure waste reduction initiatives (like deposit return systems) are introduced in each state as well as plastic bag bans, ensuring key threats like microplastics are addressed and raising awareness on the issue. I have been able to add to their capacity on this huge threat to the oceans by drafting top line messaging on key items of plastic litter, coming up with a new concept for their awareness poster and updating the plastic pollution section of their website. They hope to introduce these changes during the course of the year and we will certainly stay in touch, working in collaboration where possible to continue protecting our amazing oceans worldwide. I feel proud and privileged to have been part of all of it.

Lauren

Some of the AMCS HQ team.