Dr Hart UC Geography

Photo: Teluk Cempedak

I know I am no expert on oceanography or environmental science, nor am I capable of magically transforming our oceans. But one think I do know, is that by doing waves of small things to change the way I, and the people around me make decisions, my power to help the ocean is as great as any other person out there.

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We were lucky enough to get some direction from Dr Deirdre Hart (University of Canterbury Geography) during our project. Check out what she said below!

Thank you for your email and what a great aspiration. Have you heard about the Dunes Trust and also about Coastcare Groups? http://www.dunestrust.org.nz/
I am not exactly sure how each works locally, but I am aware that one or both of these groups is active in Christchurch cleaning up the beaches of the city and Sumner, and in helping out with planting days. Justin.cope@ecan.govt.nz will know more.

Stepping back a little to think about the issue of ‘cleaning up’ the beaches, there are likely several parts to this (and potentially several solutions possible/ needed).Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 3 or 4 kinds of stuff needing ‘cleaning up’:

  1. Rubbish – normal size, what we can pick up and remove by hand via busy-bee clean up days for example. I think Coastcare groups might be able to advise about this.
  2. Micro ‘rubbish’ – things like the microbeads in face cleaners – these are often plastic and wash down our drains and out to the ocean and into the food chain. I think we need to stop these at source by encouraging use of non-plastic products – things like oatmeal scrubs etc. This isn’t really my area but you can look at the research of Dr Sally Gaw at the University Chemistry Department – she is away for a few weeks right now but her work should be online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ie92hcVBx1Yhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA6PP3VXAoc, and http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/spark/researcher.aspx?researcherid=2700976
  3. Chemicals and nutrients dissolved or bacteria and other pathogens washed out to sea in water – again these can be bathroom products, cleaners, medicines, garden sprays, wastewater leaks (we had heaps of these post-quake as the pipes were in bad shape and we seemed to pollute more when we went to rebuild and fix things around town) etc. Stopping these at source and/or lowing the permitted discharges/ tolerance levels is probably the way to clean them up – for this and the above micro-beads pollutants, I think constructing information resources (posters, Youtube clips to spread) etc and raising awareness about what products are ok to use and marine friendly, and what are some of the common and highly non-marine friendly products that we use in our lives would be a good idea that could make a difference. Are there easy alternatives that could do the job without too much effort on the part of the consumer but make a big positive difference to the environment. I think if people are made aware of easy alternatives, then you could be very effective in accelerating change.
  4. Invasive species – most of these come in on the hulls of ships that travel internationally and are monitored by ECAN and managed by the port in Lyttelton.

I hope this helps and I’d be very keen to hear about your results – especially if you create any video clips – please send me the links!

Best wishes,

Deirdre Hart,
UC Geography

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Teluk Cempedak, Malaysia
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