News

Another 9.75 tons of rubbish removed from Torrens Island

AMWRRO and Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) remove yet another huge load of rubbish from sensitive areas on Torrens Island.

Rubbish removed from Torrens Island

Rubbish removed from Torrens Island

Over the past 9 years AMWRRO has been conducting rubbish removal operations on Torrens Island and collecting important data as each item removed is documented into survey reports. These reports allow us to track seasonal changes and therefore the rubbish that people and industry disregard into or around the Port River Estuary environments. AMWRRO has found a 75% increase in bait bags and foam esky’s in summer months verses that of winter months.

Unfortunately there is always commonly found industrial items opposite certain sites e.g. chemical drums, welding face masks, large plastic insulating items and buoys with long lengths of rope attached etc.; these items are found scattered across the western beaches of Torrens Island. Opposite the Torrens Island Markets and upstream from the North Arm region hundreds of plastic bag butts are found littering the pristine beaches of Torrens Island.

Hundreds of Plastic bag butts found on Torrens Island

Hundreds of Plastic bag butts found on Torrens Island

This data is extremely important as all rubbish found on Torrens Island is considered floating debris due to the restricted access to the Island; this unfortunately means these items are also floating in and around Barker Inlet and the Port Rover Estuary regions 24/7, coming in contact with many marine species.

Torrens Island Markets every Sunday at North Arm

Torrens Island Markets every Sunday at North Arm

Last year AMWRRO and CVA crew removed a whopping 9.75 tons of rubbish from Torrens Island over 19 working days; 6 of which CVA crew attended and removed 4.5 tons. These efforts will again be mimicked in 2014 and beyond.

Additional educational campaigns will be launched in an attempt to reduce the amount of rubbish that is discarded in this extremely important and sensitive area.

A special thank you to all AMWRRO and CVA crew for dedicating so much time and effort to this operation and for continuing to support this important work. We look forward to working with you all in the next round of clean up days in 2014 and beyond.  

Southern Elephant Seal – Ellie Released…

Ellie making her way out of the Kennards Trailer

Ellie making her way out of the Kennards Trailer

A textbook release for Ellie our Southern Elephant seal who was released at 07:00 south of Adelaide.

The AMWRRO crew arrived at Torrens Island at 02:00 to load Ellie into a donated Kennards Hire trailer for the 4 hour road trip to her release location.

Arriving on site for her release at 06:45 (sun rise) Ellie; now weighing a whopping 335kg was ready and waiting for the tailgate to be lowered. After a quick look around she was off and out of sight within minutes of release.

Ellie gained over 95kg whilst in care and considering she started moulting only days after arriving at AMWRRO it is amazing that she pulled through her rehabilitation.

Southern Elephant seals loose approximately one third of their body weight whilst moulting and thanks to the very dedicated team at AMWRRO she was fed the much needed balanced diet, additional proteins and oils during this period which is ultimately what saved her life.

Much to AMWRRO’s disappointment the Department for Environment Water and Natural Recourses (DEWNR) (Minister Ian Hunter MLC) has enforced many new conditions on AMWRRO to stop these animals being taken into care in the future without prior approval.

Last yawn before her long swim back home!

Last yawn before her long swim back home!

This will prohibit AMWRRO from providing the 24 hour rescue service to the general public for marine mammal issues as any sub-Antarctic species will now need departmental approval before the animal is touched or helped by AMWRRO Rescue Officers.

After hours approval is extremely difficult to obtain due to department officials not answering their phone after 16:59 each day and even harder to contact anyone on weekends.

Ultimately this will lead to animals suffering longer and at times even dying on our beaches without assistance – or will be “dealt with” by the department…

Despite AMWRRO being licensed for these species, DEWNR and Minister Ian Hunter are making our life extremely difficult when it comes to making a difference and saving lives, lives DEWNR and Minister Hunter are responsible for.

Australian Sea Lion Finally Freed from Death Sentence!

Gotcha!

After more than 10 weeks of being entangled the AMWRRO crew finally managed to locate and rescue this young adult Australian Seal Lion from certain death.

Hand injecting Max high up in rocks

Hand injecting Max high up in rocks

Yesterday afternoon AMWRRO received information that this young male was only metres away from the shore line at a location that cannot be disclosed. After two hours he finally came ashore and the dedicated, highly trained AMWRRO crew jumped at the opportunity and was on site within the hour.

AMWRRO Crew move Max to dry ground weighing in at 173kg

AMWRRO Crew move Max to dry ground weighing in at 173kg

Once on site, his initial location was accessible via a sandy beach, but due to fast rising tidal movements his rescue soon became a logistical and occupational minefield as it took over an hour to get the necessary clearance by the landowners that incorporated several meetings regarding OH&S before we were cleared to do our job.

Unfortunately in this time the tide has risen to a point where the rescue took place in knee deep water – making the rescue much more dangerous for our crew.

Once sedated by hand injection it took him 25 minutes to fall asleep before we could access him, load him onto a stretcher and start the 150m walk in knee deep water carrying his 173kg body to dry ground for additional treatment before loading him and starting the 1.5 hour road trip back to Torrens Island.

Entangled death sentence

Entangled death sentence

With his entanglement finally removed; the full extent of his injuries were now known and treated accordingly whilst under a full general anaesthetic. Emergency bloods were taken and run in house and additional blood sent to the lab.

AMWRRO Crew work frantically to treat Max after arriving at AMWRRO – Torrens Island

AMWRRO Crew work frantically to treat Max after arriving at AMWRRO – Torrens Island

All infected and necrotic tissue was removed from the wound site, cleaned and dressed; Max was now finally freed from a cruel and terribly painful death sentence.

The ultimate death sentence

The ultimate death sentence

Max is currently in dry dock and will remain there until medications start taking effect and the wound starts healing. Max will then be transferred to the main wetland rehabilitation facility where he will once again be able to swim freely and catch live fish whilst gaining the weight he had lost whilst entangled.

Treating the open wound

Treating the open wound

A timely reminder to everyone to keep their rubbish contained and disposed of accordingly, especially any object that can entangle around animals or be ingested (so basically everything!). Ropes, fishing line, crab pots and nets are of particular concern as these items entangle and kill more animals then ever reported.

Fortunately for Max he was found in time to be saved and flippers crossed he makes a full recovery and released in the coming months

The dedicated AMWRRO team that rescued Max!

The dedicated AMWRRO team that rescued Max!

Anyone sighting an entangled marine animal please contact AMWRRO directly as these reports often take several hours or even days to filter through other departments before AMWRRO is notified and anything can be done to help the said animal – which can have dire consequences if the animal is badly injured.

Special thanks to everyone who kept a close eye out for this young male (fishermen included) and to the very dedicated crew of AMWRRO volunteers that dropped everything to assist this amazing animal whenever asked.