Old shoes, foreign plastic bottles and lots of ship rope are some of the things found during a coastal clean-up at Robben Island last Thursday.
More than 100 volunteers from ocean-conservation NGOs, including the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), Shark Spotters, and the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, got their hands dirty at the clean-up.
Robben Island Museum and Peninsula Beverages organised the clean-up to raise awareness about ocean pollution, recycling and protecting conservation areas.
Thabo Seshoka, the senior manager of heritage and research at Robben Island Museum, said more were planned for the new year.
The museum had teams that cleaned and cared for the conservation areas, but waste from passing ships, litter from Cape Town’s stormwater drains and rivers and other pollution still threatened the island’s protected areas, he said.
“This island exists for everyone, and we want to show people the difference picking up a paper and throwing it in the bin can make.”
Maryke Musson, chairperson of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation, said she was shocked at the state of the coastline. “All the dirt we found was land-based, and stuff from ships which washes up onto this beautiful coast, which is a pity, because the animals live in filth too.
“We look forward to more clean-ups in the future. We owe it to the island and the many people who visit here.”
Monwabisi Sikwyiya, field manager at Shark Spotters, said they had picked up lots of plastic and he hoped the clean-ups could happen more frequently.
Priscilla Urquhart, from Peninsula Beverages, said the company was committed to working with Robben Island Museum to conserve the coastline and raise the importance of cleaning up after yourself.