SCHOOL CHILDREN who took part in an Eco Barge clean-up as part of its Eco Ambassador Program not only cleared an "outstanding” 168kg of debris last week, but also witnessed a juvenile green turtle being released back into the ocean.
Eco Barge founding chairwoman, Libby Edge, said the turtle, named Luna, had been in care at the Whitsunday Turtle Rescue Centre, and was taken to Pioneer Bay.
"The Eco Ambassadors were lucky enough to be part of the magical release of this beautiful creature back into our marine environment,” she said.
Ms Edge said the eager clean-up team set out on the Eco Barge on August 12 to target the beach at Grimston Point which had been heavily impacted by post-Cyclone Debbie and collected 168kg of marine debris.
For the past three years, two students have been chosen from each local school to become Eco Ambassadors. They are then able to take part in Eco Barge events and learn - in a hands-on way - about how to protect our marine environment, the issues of marine debris and also help with the care of sick or injured turtles.
"The Eco Ambassadors can then take this knowledge back into the classroom and inform their fellow peers,” Ms Edge said.
Cannonvale State School's Eco Ambassador Annabelle Head said the program had given her a great opportunity to learn about the effects of marine debris on the reef and to help reduce these impacts in The Whitsundays.
For the second year running, ongoing partners of Eco Barge, Cruise Whitsundays, has also supported the venture.
Georgie Amos, a cruise attendant with Cruise Whitsundays who volunteers with Eco Barge, said she had been "delighted” to help with clean-up day.
"We removed rubbish and marine debris and it was exhilarating to be able to release the turtle. It was really fulfilling, and I would encourage anyone to get involved and volunteer to help keep our Whitsundays clean and beautiful.”
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