30 November 2020

Students help little penguins have a safe home without plastics

| Sharon Kelley
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Students from Batemans Bay Public School cleaning up beach.

Students from Batemans Bay Public School cleaning up the beach. Photo: Supplied.

Primary school students from Batemans Bay have removed 50kg of rubbish and plastic from Surfside Beach and Caseys Beach.

Year 4 students from Batemans Bay Public School and St Bernard’s Primary School have been learning how playground litter can impact the little penguins living in the Clyde River estuary.

Eurobodalla Shire Council environmental project officer Lily Berry said students were surprised to find so much rubbish on the beach.

“The schools in Batemans Bay are lucky to be a short distance to the ocean, but that also means any rubbish dropped in the playground can easily end up in the Clyde estuary,” she said.

Batemans Bay Public School student Huon Norris is a weekend fisher at South Durras and said he regularly sees little penguins.

READ ALSO Logging beach clean-ups with Tangaroa Blue

“The islands I’ve seen them on are Wasp Island, Grasshopper Island and Flat Rock Island,” he said. “They are always around big bait balls, and around South Durras they are very well fed.”

Ms Berry said this is the first time some of the students had even heard of little penguins in the area.

“The items we collected – such as plastic food packaging, bottles, cans and fishing line – are a threat to little penguins and other marine wildlife,” she said. “We have seen this kind of plastic rubbish in the nests of penguins on Snapper Island.

“All up, we removed more than 50kg of rubbish, which was sorted and the data logged in the Australian Marine Debris Database using the Tangaroa Blue app. This means the kids are helping find solutions and identify the source of commonly found items.

“It also brought home to them that the best way to help our wildlife is to avoid single-use plastic – to reduce rubbish getting into the environment in the first place – and disposing of waste properly.”

Additional clean-ups with Sunshine Bay Public School and the Batemans Bay High School Student Environment Council are planned for the near future.

For more information, contact Lily Berry by email or read more online.

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