With low winds and clear skies forecast, it was a perfect opportunity for the Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers (Andrea and Stella) and two legendary volunteers Doug (Station Communications Technical Officer) and Tim (Senior MET observer) to head down the wild west coast to collect marine debris washed up by the westerly winds and strong currents.
This enthusiastic bunch were based at Bauer Bay Hut and worked south along the rugged coastline to Cormorant Point. As the giant petrel flies, this wasn’t a very long distance but the four of us managed to fill our backpacks and have two rubbish bags each to carry back to the hut.
Although Macca is a tiny sliver of rock in the middle of the vast Southern Ocean, the island lies directly in the path of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). With no large land mass to contain its flow, junk collected by the ACC can float around in circles for a long time before it becomes washed up on remote islands like Macca.
The rubbish we found was accumulated on sandy beaches, tangled in kelp piled up on the rocky shore, wedged in rock stacks and even up in the tussock plains far away from the high tide mark. Plastic bottles were the most common junk collected but we also found fishing buoys, plastic rope, polystyrene, plastic storage drums and lots of tiny miro-plastic fragments.
The star find of the day was a soccer ball, still inflated which we imaginatively named Wilson. Not only was this a great help to the Macca Rangers, it was a fun few days out in the field seeing some of the more remote areas of the island.
Stella (TasPWS Ranger)