Shell Participants

April 18th- 20th 2013, Rottnest Island- WA

Day 1


  • After a short ferry ride we were greeted by the Earthwatch team, Geraldine and Denise.
  • Quick introductions over a coffee
    • The Lush TV crew was with us throughout the day filming.
    • Collected bicycles and cycled over to the Rottnest Discovery centre in Kingston.
    • Denise gave introductory presentation on the marine research being carried out by the team.
      • The team were shocked by the magnitude of the debris and the amount of time it takes for different plastic materials and objects to degrade, the bio-magnification of toxins on the surface of water, plastics never bio-degredage simply degrade to small particles.
      • Headed over to the accommodation unit to get set up, lunch was set up, had a feed and set out to Kingston beach for transect surveys.
      • Split into two teams and completed 4 transect surveys.
        • This included learning how to set up and record the data.
        • Finally, the group completed an Emu walk transect.
        • Returned back to camp and completed data analysis and entry into database.


Day 2


Day 2 began with a 7.5 km bike ride to Mary Cove. We started off with two transect lines (12m each) and an emu parade  across the beach, with a transect line of 60m. At first glance the beach appeared very clean but as we got under way and moved up and down the from the shore to the dune we began filling the rubbish bags and soon the boxes.

Majority of our rubbish collection appeared to be fishing paraphernalia,  including polystyrene foam floats that had broken into hundreds (category 1) pieces.  We also found many bottles and odd items such as a light bulb and baby dummy.


We rode a further 5km west to Cape Vlamingh, where we did a transect line directly through the Wedgetail Shearwater colony. Shearwaters have burrows not nest  where they hatch their young. In our first quadrant of the transect we were lucky enough to witness a Shearwater chick in a burrow, hiding out and getting ready to fledge in the coming weeks. Our duty was to count the numbers of burrows along the transect line and also collect any ‘birdyness’ or debris.

Transect line number 2 on the west side was outside of the colony on the road to West End Point. We did this 7m from the road heading north in the scrub but did not retrieve anything apart from a rubber thong sandal. We believe this is because it isn’t a human traffic area and is sheltered by the wind. We found no burrows or bird activity.

After our field work we headed back to base camp to count and sort our data. We split into pairs to count the different size debris, size 1 proved to be quite tenuous and a reminder of how such small pieces can easily be mistaken for food to birds and other critters.

We finished day 2 with a ride into town for a well earned ice-cream and cold beverage. The evening saw us plug in data and write our blog ready for an early night and another day ahead.



Our last day at Rotto started off with a quick bike ride to the Discovery Centre.

Denise started dissecting a penguin that was found on the beach a fews days ago. From the outset it was clear that it most probably died of starvation as not fat was apparent under the surface.

When we opened up the stomach there was literally nothing inside which gave further evidence to our suspicion that the penguins cause of death was starvation. Damon untangled the intestine and still no food to be found.

After this we were back the accommodation gather our field kits and headed to Parakeet Beach and we split up into two teams and did 4 transects.  There was a little offshore breeze building up and it was clear that the prevailing wind direction was similar and therefor we did not find much beach litter in our four transects.

One more team photo and we were back fo lunch and a quick clean up of the rooms, completed  the data entry and prepared for our ferry ride back to Perth.