The first phase of the Aldabra Clean Up Project has now been completed and the teams have returned from the first phase – two weeks spent conducting intensive clean-ups under difficult conditions at remote field camps.
On February 25, two groups of six were deployed to the South Coast of Grand Terre and had a hugely successful time clearing a total of more than 20 tonnes of trash from turtle nesting beaches and tortoise grazing areas.
Despite the difficult nature of the work, the team has been motivated by the incredible wildlife that inhabits the island and taken great satisfaction in helping to clear their habitats. Interactions between animals and the trash have been frequently observed - giant tortoises have been seen ingesting plastic while the team has watched baby turtles wading through trash to reach the sea.
The work has been challenging due to the extreme heat and physically demanding nature of the clean-ups. It has also been disheartening at times to see how extensive the problem of plastic pollution is on Aldabra and the team has been shocked by the quantity of marine debris that has accumulated on the atoll’s shores.
Craig Francourt, one of the Seychellois volunteers, says: “Although we had a good understanding of the challenge awaiting us on Aldabra, witnessing first-hand the staggering volume of marine debris along the beaches of the south coast has been both shocking, and at times, despairing. This once-in-a-lifetime expedition has not been easy."
Clearing Aldabra’s beaches of marine debris – whilst camping for long periods of time in basic conditions, navigating treacherous terrain and enduring the scorching heat for up to nine hours per day – has been both physically and mentally taxing. What has driven us has been our collective determination to work tirelessly to clear as much trash from the atoll as possible. We are particularly thankful for the amazing efforts of the SIF staff on the atoll, whose support and expertise have been essential in supporting our ongoing efforts.
The entire team were reunited for a couple of days at the research station preparing for phase two and welcoming the coastguard who will assist with both the clearing and transportation of the trash.
On March 18, two teams of four deployed back to the field camps for a further nine days to continue clean-ups and organise the trash ready for collecting. The remaining volunteers will deploy to the North coast of the island to clean three key turtle-nesting beaches and take part in the Sky News live broadcast. The programme will air live at 08:00 GMT on Tuesday March 19.