Beach battalion battles Robson Bight trash
BROUGHTON STRAIT — The Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve is a lot cleaner today, thanks to a battalion of volunteers who hauled away tires, rope, buoys and other trash in the first beach clean-up in the area in late May.
The effort, held as part of Parks’ 100 celebrations across the Province, included four boats and 22 participants who came together from a variety of organizations and businesses.
“Each summer when we return to Boat Bay to work, the bay is full of washed-up garbage accumulated over the winter,” said Nic Dedeluk of Cetus Research and Conservation Society, in a written release. “Everything that goes through the storm drains or blows down the street or overboard washes up along the shorelines at some point.”
Environmentalists have identified the debris floating in coastal waters as a threat to birds and mammals that become entangled in rope, nets and plastic or mistake the trash for food.
The Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve is of particular importance. It was established in 1982 to protect killer whale habitat, and is a popular rubbing beach for the North Island’s resident orca population.
Dedeluk said much of the reserve’s shoreline contained relatively little garbage, with one beach at the western end of the reserve serving as a catchment area for most of the trash. The volunteer crew was able to finish its clean-up effort there and move on to more trash collection at Boat Bay, eventually hauling several small boatloads of garbage to Seven Mile Landfill for disposal. The haul included everything from the usual marine flotsam like rope, nets, anchor chain, styrofoam, plastics and wood, to shoes, a sling shot and even a baby soother.
“We left feeling both satisfied and frustrated, as we had cleaned a few of our local Northern Vancouver Island beaches,” said Dedluk. “Yet we had only scratched the surface.”
Transport to the cleanup site was provided by Jim and Mary Borrowman of Orcella Expeditions. Volunteers represented Cetus, Pacific Orca Society, the Young Naturalists Club of B.C.’s Northern Vancouver Island chapter, Marine Education and Research Society, ‘Namgis First Nation, BC Parks staff and Telegraph Cove Resort. BC Parks provided support with a Communities for Conservation grant.