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A picture tells a thousand words

Posted Wednesday 05 March 2014

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If you were at Balmoral Beach mid-January you may have seen the 3D chalk drawings along The Esplanade, created by Artist Rudy Kistler. The drawings depicted marine and birdlife, including a dolphin, a cormorant, a squid, a fish and oysters. The 3D chalk drawings were amazing works of art – but also presented a strong message about the impacts of litter and the dangers birds and marine life face from discarded rubbish such as fishing line, plastic items and cigarette butts.

Statistics from Clean Up Australia reveal that worldwide an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered each year. Unfortunately these cigarette butts can not only release toxic chemicals into the waterway, they can also be ingested by birds and marine life causing severe distress and at times death.

Plastic items that are littered instead of being disposed of properly are a major problem in the marine environment. For example, turtles may swallow plastic bags thinking they are jellyfish. Ingested plastic in large quantities can act as a permanent flotation device within a turtle leaving it unable to dive for food, leading to starvation (Take 3).

Fishing line and balloons if not picked up and placed in the bin can also cause harm to birds and other marine life by entangling around legs, wings, beaks, necks, or fins making normal foraging activity difficulty or in more extreme circumstances impossible.

If you’re fishing or just taking a walk along the wharf or beach – please pick up any visible fishing line or plastic rubbish, ‘Reel it in and put it in the bin’. If you’re a smoker please be aware that dropping cigarette butts on the ground is littering and that all street drains lead to a waterway, so please ‘Butt it and bin it’.