Posted on the 3rd January 2019

Fifteen monthly coastal cleanups have already been undertaken and we express our sincere appreciation to Elaine Odendal and Helé Oosthuizen for managing this process. Reports on these monthly coastal clean-ups are being published on a regular basis and can be viewed under the conservation section of the BirdLife Overberg club website

Also like the "CleanMarine at BirdLife Overberg" Facebook page to receive regular news and updates on progress with our projects. Score sheets of litter items collected developed by the Oceans Conservancy, an international agency based in America, are also available for some of these cleanup days. The information received from all over the world is collated by the Oceans Conservancy to gain a better understanding of the types of litter most prevalent on a global scale.











Elaine and Helé also raised funds for basic expenses incurred with the coastal cleanup campaign, particularly as far as participation by children from the Zwelihle Recycle Swop Shop is concerned. The selling of the WaddleOn Penguin socks was one of the initiatives used for this purpose.

An in-depth overview of the litter collected over the first year of the project can be viewed at this link:

These clean-ups are interesting and very rewarding. The volunteers work in groups of three or four with one person marking off the litter items being collected on the standard form developed by the Oceans Conservancy. The information gleaned from the monthly report cards was collated and we hereby give a brief overview of the prevalence of the various types of litter collected over the fifteen months. Individual Excel spreadsheets of the litter collected are available from us, but we hereby merely highlight a few findings.

Plastic beverage and water bottles were very prominent, together with plastic bottle caps, plastic straws, as well as small pieces of plastic. The latter is of particular significance as these eventually break down to become micro-plastics being ingested throughout various (even human) food chains. Not surprisingly plastic bags and food wrappers also featured strongly. All these items essentially represent single-use plastics, indicating lifestyle issues that we all are involved in and could potentially be turned around by using re-usable replacements for these plastic items. 

Part of the team at Onrus Beach in December. Cleanup done in collaboration with the Coastal Cleanup Conservation Trust & Walker Bay Recycling


Part of the team at Grotto Beach in November, Cleanup done in collaboration with the Coastal Cleanup Conservation Trust and Walker Bay Recycling











Fishing and angling activities also appear to be a major problem with fishing line representing an estimated length of 1,950 m were removed in the period under review. Add to this the 90 pieces of fishing net and 290 pieces of rope and it becomes evident that this is a major problem. It is very well known that birds and other animals are adversely affected and often killed through entanglement with these fishing items, a fact confirmed by international research and statistics. This issue is addressed in the report on the setting up of fishing line bins.

It is important to note that the findings discussed above are consistent with those found in other parts of the world and these items appear to be a problem everywhere. One might ask “So what? What difference will the collection of 5,000 odd pieces of marine litter make?” The clean-up teams were unable to complete score sheets on some of the days that they were collecting litter. It is downright impossible to manage a clipboard with paper in a raging south-easterly wind and in many cases the sheer volume of litter, particularly amongst rocks, simply implied that it was “all hands on deck” without completing score sheets. The findings discussed above therefore represent a huge underestimation of the total stuff collected. It remains very satisfactory to deliver the many bags collected to a recycle plant, or a landfill site with the realisation that it is not along the shoreline any longer and potentially negatively affecting birds and other wildlife. 

Eats and drinks for the volunteers of the Zwelihle Recycle Swop Shop sponsored by Elaine and Hele
Identifying seabirds with the BirdLife Overberg identification brochure









An interesting local issue that probably relates largely to abalone poaching is not reported in international findings. An astonishing 532 condoms and wrappers were picked up in the period under review – the poachers apparently use condoms to protect their cell phones when they enter the sea. Significant numbers of “dikidiki lights” used for diving at night, and several flippers and wet suites also formed part of the litter collected. Say no more!

The efforts of the BirdLife Overberg coastal clean-up team, together with the sterling work of the Onrus Litter Ladies, are certainly making a significant difference to the cleaning of the coastline at Onrus, Vermont and the Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve. Antonio da Silva-Swart in fact commented at a recent cleanup at Onrus that we are wasting our time to clean up along here as the area is essentially clean. The question that arises is what other organisations in other areas along our beautiful coastline could do to improve the quality of our seashore. One is tempted to encourage and even challenge other club members, environmental and cultural clubs and organisations, church groups, rate payers associations and the like to become involved in similar actions along their local coastal patches. Surely we can all contribute to a better quality of life for man and beast along our beautiful Cape Whale Coast’s beaches and rocky shores? 

Year-end outing with the volunteers from the Zwelihle Recycle Swop Shop at the Stony Point penguin colony
BirdLife Overberg volunteers along the beautiful Hoek van de Berg Nature Reserve shoreline











The support of several collaborating organisations is acknowledged. The growing list of partners includes the Zwelihle Recycle Swop Shop, the Coastal Cleanup Conservation Trust, the Onrus Litter Ladies, Walker Bay Recycling and the Sharks Conservancy. Note should be taken of the fact that the latter two organisations requested us to participate in and support campaigns that they are involved in.

We express our sincere appreciation to John Kieser of Plastics SA for providing branded refuse bags for the collection of litter. He also assists with forwarding the scored sheets of litter collected to the Oceans Conservancy.

Finally we would like to invite club members, as well as members of the public and representatives of environmental and cultural clubs and agencies and particularly youth groups to join us on these monthly coastal clean-ups, or to start with similar campaigns in their areas. Members of the Somerset West Bird Club have already joined similar actions in Strand after a talk by Anton at one of their monthly meetings and the hope is expressed that other bird clubs will join such campaigns.

It is recommended that this project continues into the future as several volunteers and collaborators have become involved and the infrastructure is in place given the sterling coordination by Elaine and Helé.









No current posts. Be the first to post a comment