21.6 C
Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

Shearwaters decimated by plastic

Latest News

How full is that glass?

Cr Alan Hunter, Byron Shire Council Council Staff recommend opposing the proposed changes in the Exempt Development provisions to be considered...

Other News


Gareth Smith, Byron Bay Trade Minister Dan Tehan wants to refer China to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) because he...

Is hydrogen part of a sustainable energy future?

There’s a lot to like about hydrogen. For starters, it’s abundant. Hydrogen can store excess renewable power. When liquified, it’s more energy intense than fossil alternatives. In a fuel cell, it can generate electricity. When it’s burned, the only by-product is water.

Rous County Dam

Jo Faith, Newtown Strong objections to the proposed development of this dam have been articulated by the Indigenous Heritage First...

On-farm restaurant’s sustainable vision

Frida’s Field is an on-farm restaurant based in Nashua, just ten minutes from Bangalow. Hosting three long lunches per...

Independent wants to be Byron’s new mayor

Independent Byron Shire Councillor Basil Cameron has announced his candidature for Mayor.

Linnaeus Estate DA raises residents concerns

Community concern over the current development application (DA: 10.2021.170.1) for Linnaeus Estate in Broken Head has led to detailed analysis of the DA.

G Rudwick, Port Willunga, SA

On Thursday night, September 6, ABC’s Catalyst showed a short yet riveting segment about the Shearwater birds of Lord Howe Island.

The riveting part was the autopsy being performed on a dead baby Shearwater bird.

In gashing open the tiny belly, the researcher was able to reveal for the camera and for us the shocking contents. He counted 123 tiny coloured and clear pieces of plastic and metal clumped in a mucous mass in the distended belly sac.

The researcher explained that the mother Shearwater, still with her instinct to feed her young, hunted in the ocean for seemingly bright and living matter for her offspring.

So great is the number and variety of dead plastics and metals that she was, no doubt, satisfying her instinct to keep her chicks alive.

Her hunting ground is dying, replaced by the ever-increasing middens of bright and deadly plastics and metals that are spawned from our hapless waste and neglectful disposal of consumer items.

This could seem dramatic. It’s just the raw truth. These dead Shearwater chicks litter the island’s forest and beaches.

Today at the crack of dawn we drove along an urbanised north coast river and on three picnic tables was the abandoned evidence of last night’s end-of-week celebrations.

We counted 30 beer bottles and endless empty ‘cordial’ liquor stubbies.

Coming from South Australia, I wanted to swoop on all the litter and cash it in for 10 and 20 cents a piece. Each time I see plastic bottles on the verges, in the garbage, along the highways and scattered in the parks and on the beaches of the north coast – I do a mental tally of what the stash is worth. It’s a lot of money. Empties are definitely worth cashing in.

Taking one’s personal shopping bag to the supermarket, produce markets and all other merchant outlets is definitely worth it in SA. Those friendly fabric bags we cart around with us save us many dollars in any given week, since all plastic bags have to be purchased in SA.

It’s clever. It’s simple and the transition, as we were a part of it, was seamless.

South Australian waters are listed as some of the cleanest and safest for the large fishing industry, for the holiday makers and the residents.

I was born and raised beside the Pacific Ocean; we were tarred with zinc cream, surfed all day, drank Passiona and milk shakes and happily knew that some one or other of the menfolk would come home having caught fish for dinner.

The Shearwater chicks were safe then.

And now?

Perhaps as New South Welshmen and women we might put our shoulders to the wheel for the implementation, across the state, of two simple and achievable ocean-saving, life-giving strategies:

1. deposit on bottles and cans to be refunded when handed back

2. 20 cent charge on plastic shopping bags.

We are in the same food chain with the baby Shearwaters!


Previous articleMayoral results in
Next articleSeptember 11 re-analysed

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. All states should bring this in but it seems to be too “difficult” for our governments to handle. It would be environmentally sound on a lot of levels – recyclables not wasted in land fill, creating employment, income for those who wish to pick up litter as well as preventing marine pollution. Councils who have their tips in coastal areas often have rubbish blowing around, I am sure some of that is part of the problem. Also, a USA warship threw out heaps of garbage off of Caloundra QLD some years ago and apparently it was perfectly legal; so, globally, how many ships would be throwing their garbage in the water as well? (Australian’s aren’t allowed to do so and cruise ships keep theirs on board)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Creative carbon capture

Desmond Bellamy – Special Projects Coordinator, PETA Australia, Byron Bay Last week, the Australian government pledged half a billion dollars for ‘clean’ energy projects, including 264 million...

Assange’s father to beg Biden for son’s freedom

John Shipton, father of detained WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, says he’ll return to the United States to ask President Joe Biden to drop legal action against his son.

Linnaeus Estate DA raises residents concerns

Community concern over the current development application (DA: 10.2021.170.1) for Linnaeus Estate in Broken Head has led to detailed analysis of the DA.

Echo turns 35 and You are invited!

This year The Echo turns 35, and to celebrate this momentous anniversary they are putting on The Echo Community Awards – and everyone is invited!