Coast KZN

20 Oct 2017

Plastic catastrophe on Dolphin Coast beaches: how can you help?

Allan Troskie (North Coast Courier) Picture: Plastic beads have been washing up all along the North Coast.

It will take the concerted effort of all beach goers to make an impact on this ecological disaster.

Beaches from Durban all the way north to Mtunzini have been covered in plastic beads, posing a serious threat to the ecology and marine life of the KZN coastline.

Many people have already spent time trying to pick up as much of the plastic as possible but the tiny size of the beads has made this a very difficult task. The Department of Environmental Affairs had already dispatched workers to begin the arduous task of cleaning up the beads, starting at Tongaat beach and working their way northwards.

The beads, or “nurdles”, come from a container that was washed off a ship in Durban during the recent storms, according to Specialised Rescue Unit’s Quentin Power – who is also a member of the KZN Stranding Network.

“What makes this a particular challenge is that the tide will carry the beads in and dump them on a beach, but tomorrow they will have been carried out again and the current will deposit them somewhere else,” said Power.

The Dolphin Coast Conservancy’s Di Jones urges locals, holidaymakers and all beach-goers to help by taking a bag whenever visiting the beach and to collect as many nurdles as possible.

“We have people power, let’s use it!” said Jones.

“Plastic is a horrible substance for the environment, these beads are so small that we will never be able to clear them all. Fish will eat them and either just die because of the plastic clogging up their digestive tracts, or birds and other animals will eat the fish and the same thing will happen to them. Even people eat the fish and this could pose a risk to our health.”

Tomorrow (Saturday) the Tidal Tao ocean exploration group will be embarking on a beach cleanup at the tidal pool at Chaka’s Rock from 10am. Volunteers are urged to bring bags to put the beads in, rakes and mesh to help gather them. For more information on this planned cleanup, visit the Tidal Tao Facebook page.