While the locals on Christmas Island appreciate living with such an incredible marine environment at their doorstep, Sea Week is the time of year when everyone gets together to celebrate it, and educate people about what needs to be done to protect it.
During the week, various work shops were held to show people how to reduce their plastic waste, beach clean-ups were organised at Greta Beach and Flying Fish Cove, community groups printed reusable shopping bags using debris found on the beach and everyone got together under the stars at the open-air cinema to watch the Ocean Film Festival.
Kate Brodie, a visitor to the island thinks that she was lucky that her Christmas Island holiday happened to coincide with Sea Week.
"Being on Christmas Island for Sea Week 2017 added a very different and wonderful dimension to our holiday. We joined the locals at the waste free afternoon tea, helped with beach clean-ups and waste audits, printed designs on reusable calico bags, watched Moana and the Ocean Film Festival at the outdoor cinema.
It was Kate’s first visit to the island, her husband Ross, having visited earlier for work, was keen to return with Kate so they could have more time to explore the island.
“We joined with local citizen scientists in collecting marine debris, it was fantastic to be involved with many caring and enthusiastic locals. We learnt lots about turtles, crabs, birdlife, marine debris and coral at Science in the Pub. It was a great intro to the amazing island. We were even lucky enough to see a turtle nesting at Greta Beach and after learning about them it was fantastic to witness this spectacle.
“We also had time to explore Dolly, Lily and Ethel Beach, the Dales, the Blowholes, and of course, we spent lots of time spent snorkelling warm clear waters and had to look in the fish ID book after each snorkel to help remember what had been seen, there is so much variety.”
Sea Week brings together the Department of Environment Regulation (DER) Community Education team, the Department of Fisheries, Christmas Island Tourism Association, Christmas Island Care and Parks Australia, all working to present a range of activities and educational opportunities that focus on the health of our oceans.
Keep Australia Beautiful (KAB) staff members Maureen Maher and Samantha Culbertson also made a short trip to take part in Sea Week activities.
The DER/KAB Community Education team worked in partnership to organise a number of initiatives to raise awareness of the things islanders can do to minimise their impact on the beautiful island environment.
The Adopt-a-Spot program was launched with more than 21 individuals or groups signing up to adopt their own patch to keep litter-free.
Lessons in the CI District High School (CIDHS) focused on the theme of plastic pollution. Junior classes were read the book 'Pesky Plastic', discussed the impact of plastic on the marine environment, and played a board game called 'Grab Your Bag' to encourage the use of reusable bags rather than single-use plastic ones. The senior lessons focus was the global issue of marine debris.
Students from CIDHS collected more than 850 kg of marine debris for the Marine Debris Project on Greta Beach, and in doing so helped protect the nesting sites for the green turtles.
Waste-Free Wednesday with the CI Women’s Association reminded attendees of simple ways to reduce personal waste and attendees helped make no-sew reusable bags.
A Community Art Project brought islanders together to print their own reusable calico bag using objects found at the beach.
A Clean-up day at Flying Fish Cove saw volunteers join a dive crew to remove litter on land and sea. 21 bags weighing around 65 kg were removed and the group enjoyed a BBQ to celebrate
A presentation at Science in the Pub called on locals to become citizen scientists and collect and audit marine debris for the Tangaroa Blue Marine Debris data base. Other presentations provided information on coral bleaching and CI birdlife, reminding the audience of the island’s biodiversity, and its vulnerability.
Sea Week next year will be held in August 2018 - stay tuned for further details and travel packages to the Island through our Member Travel Agents. For further details contact the Christmas Island Tourism Association.