"It resembles fish eggs, and it's very easily ingested by turtles, and is also a risk to shore birds and whales."
Volunteers have helped collect thousands of polystyrene beads that washed ashore.
A tractor works to clear the beads from the sand. Photos: Alison Foley
6 November 23
If you’ve ever had a beanbag burst (and who hasn’t), you’ll know what a bloody mess those little balls make and how hard they are to pick up. This is "a pollution event on an industrial scale” though at Maroochydore and Alexandra Headland on Queensland’s Sunny Coast – and right at the start of turtle nesting season.
As reported by the ABC:
Investigation underway into Sunshine Coast polystyrene spill at start of turtle nesting season
Hundreds of people have joined the clean-up and Sunshine Coast Council will continue to comb the sand with tractors over the coming days.
The beads first began to appear at Maroochydore and Alexandra Headland on Friday afternoon and are suspected to have washed up from offshore.
Alison Foley from environmental group Ten Little Pieces said it's a "pollution event of an industrial scale".
She said the spill had come at the beginning of turtle season, and the small plastic beads were a danger to wildlife.
"It resembles fish eggs, and it's very easily ingested by turtles," Ms Foley said.
Ms Foley said it was also a risk to shore birds and whales.
Because the beads are light, they are hard to collect and spread easily.
"If we're seeing polystyrene here, it's likely that there's polystyrene going to be showing up in other environments, especially on the coastal strip," she said.
The council's local disaster coordinator Bill Haddrill said it was a difficult clean up operation.
"It's not easy to to pick them all up," Mr Haddrill said.
"I think it might almost be impossible to get to the last one.
"We'll certainly continue our efforts until we collect the vast majority of the polystyrene balls that have washed up."
'A nuisance and frustration'
Mr Haddrill said authorities, including Maritime Safety Queensland, were working to identify the source and contain the spill.
"At this stage, we have no knowledge or even insights to what they might have come from," he said.
"It's a nuisance and a frustration.
"We love our beaches and it is disappointing when things like this happen."
- AUTHOR: BREE DWYER
- SOURCE: ABC SUNSHINE COAST