This trip depends heavily on the three boats, they are like our mobile bases. We sleep, eat and work on them. The back deck of the "Velocity" is a big open space, ideal for sorting rubbish (see photo) and the front decks of the other two boats are steadily filling up with giant bags of sorted rubbish.
Every night I sleep on "Wilson's Voyager", a beautiful wooden fishing boat, in a bunk right up in the bow. It's pretty cosy but you have to be very organised, because there are no cupboards! it just like living in a tent. The others in my cabin are sometimes snorers so I am glad I bought a pair of earplugs!
When I went to bed all three boats were tied up side by side but in the morning the "Velocity" had disappeared! Don't worry, it hadn't sunk, the crew had made a very early departure to head north and check out our destination beach (Sharks Jaw Bay, north of the Trumpeter Islands - 43 16 38 S 145 49.10 E). Not just for rubbish but also for waves to surf (lots of very keen surfers on that boat).
More next page >>
After they had their fun and the other two boats caught up we all headed out to the beach to begin the day's clean up. On the way in we were escorted by about 50 curious shiny seals who followed our boats snorting loudly and leaping out of the water.
Seals often gulp down their fish whole and any plastic in the prey fish builds up in the seal (predator).
Shark's Jaw beach was very different from the beaches we have seen in last two days. There was no sand, it was very stoney, with some whale bones here and there. The rubbish we were picked up was dominated by lots and lots of glass and bottles.
There were also a few other bits and pieces from ships and boats: A fridge, lots of buoys, very long bits of rope, and one really really gigantic trawl net. We couldn't take the net with us because it was jammed tight under some rocks and the waves were crashing dangerously around. Alicia was very annoyed that we had to leave it behind.
More next page>>
When I had a close look at the big trawl net I realised where most of the bits of rope we have been picking up have come from:
A trawler is a type of fishing boat that drags a very big strong net through the water. Harry told me that if the net has a big broken bit then the trawler's crew cut it out and sometimes throw the whole thing overboard. If it is a small break then it is repaired but the cut-offs often get thrown away.
Nets are made of rope and all the discarded bits come apart in the waves then get washed up on our beaches.
It doesn't end there though, each short bit of rope is made of hundreds of tiny plastic strands twisted together, when these tiny strands are floating on the surface they are mistaken for food and swallowed by small animals.
So one bit of old net as big as your school desk can easily make a few thousand tiny bits of killer debris.
More next page>>
Time for a cheer up! The funniest bit of rubbish of the day was a big plastic cylinder thing that looked just like an enormous top hat when Phoebe carried it on her head. I have no idea what it was used for. She even did a dance and sang a song in French!
After 8 hours of non-stop rubbish collection we finally got back to the boats and motored off to find another surf break.
While we surfed, dived and swam the weather got a lot worse. The clouds and mist came in and the rain began falling steadily.
That night we counted 37 LARGE BAGS OF RUBBISH rubbish under the boat lights. It was a bit dangerous because of all the broken glass and big heavy ropes and buoys. When we were finished we had counted 8724 pieces, many of them quite large. Obviously something about the position of the beach means it collects the biggest debris.
A class has had a pretty good guess at the two main currents that meet off SW Tasmania, well done!
The two currents are:
1. The Zeehan current (which is really just an extension of the Leeuwin current), it flows down the coat of Western Australia and then across the Great Australian Bight before bumping into Tasmania.
2. A little eddy of the East Australian Current, that flows down the east coast of Australia and Tasmania and a bit of it curls off around the bottom of Tasmania.
This means that sometimes the rubbish we are picking up can come from eastern Tasmania and sometimes as far away as the international waters in the Indian Ocean!
The weather forecast for tomorrow is not so good so will probably head to a sheltered spot such as Hannant Inlet.
End of day 4 report.