Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Beach lovers unite to protect wildlife

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A shared love for the beach and wildlife brought about 80 people to Mount Main Beach for a community clean up.

Nathan Pettigrew, who has gained a large following for his photos and videos of his encounters with marine life, organised a beach clean on Sunday after being disgusted at a large mess apparently left behind by fishermen and partiers.

He was "humbled" by the number of adults and children that showed up yesterday morning to care for the environment they too loved.

"It's been an amazing turnout," he said. "Everybody put their hands up and said they would help out. I didn't have to ask for anything, they all said hey, we'll do this.

"I'm absolutely humbled by this."

Jordan Mead, 8, Teresa Gainfort, and Kiera Moser, 8, getting ready to pick up rubbish. Photo/George Novak
Jordan Mead, 8, Teresa Gainfort, and Kiera Moser, 8, getting ready to pick up rubbish. Photo/George Novak

Divers from Dive Zone and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic also took part in the clean underwater, and Greenpark School bought an army of young volunteers, many of whom were avid viewers of Mr Pettigrew's videos.

Much of the mess on Moturiki (Leisure Island) had already been picked up prior to the beach clean, so Mr Pettigrew asked his willing volunteers to also scour Mount Main Beach, Mauao's base track and Hopukiore (Mount Drury).

He said the rubbish on Moturiki was concerning as the island was a penguin habitat.

"Rubbish gets crammed into the rocks [on Leisure Island] where the penguins burrow. The penguins either get trapped in or blocked out."

Mr Pettigrew said he was in talks with Bay Explorer, which donated sausages to the volunteers, about making the clean up a regular event.

"This is one small thing, but it will hopefully bring wider awareness for others to do the same thing.

"Hopefully, it targets the people who put their rubbish there in the first place. We're happy to clean up rubbish, but we shouldn't have to do it in the first place."

Sarah Williams found a disgusting knot of fishing line, plastic, rope, seaweed, hooks, driftwood and rag. Photo/George Novak
Sarah Williams found a disgusting knot of fishing line, plastic, rope, seaweed, hooks, driftwood and rag. Photo/George Novak

Volunteer Sarah Williams got the "find of the day" after coming across a large ball of junk.

Seaweed and driftwood were muddled together with different lengths and thicknesses of fishing line, hooks, a bit of rope, plastic and some kind of material that may once have been a bandage.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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