A Heartfelt Clean-Up at De Hoop Nature Reserve

On the 17th and 18th of May 2024, Morukuru Family De Hoop and Morukuru Goodwill Foundation hosted our third annual beach clean-up at De Hoop Nature Reserve, in collaboration with CapeNature. This remarkable event brought together guests, day visitors, staff from Morukuru Family, and CapeNature employees, all united in our mission to restore the pristine beauty of the beach. De Hoop Nature Reserve is a Marine Protected Area, and an important release point for endangered sea turtles like Bheni. All were welcomed at Bites Beach Café by Morukuru Family nature guide, Corné Lamprecht, and Waseem Parker, CapeNature’s Conservation Officer for De Hoop Nature Reserve. “Doing this on an annual basis is a consistent and positive action. We want to bring attention to marine pollution and the difference we can make together. We also hope to encourage all to take this action home, to all play our part,” said Corné. He mentioned our ongoing efforts like the Plastic4Coffee initiative of Bites Beach Café where visitors can take one of the eco-friendly bags provided and collect trash in exchange for a cup of coffee. On a side note, our participants also enjoyed a tasty lunch at Bites that provided some energy for the afternoon session! The clean-up event spanned a 16km stretch of beach, going into areas not normally accessed and revealing the alarming extent of pollution that is brought in by the sea on a daily basis, and often gets trapped in the rocks. Lynette Greef, General Manager of Morukuru De Hoop, was heartbroken to see how dirty the beaches can get, especially in the remote areas. “That stretch of beach is absolutely picture perfect and the fact that it is so littered is heart-wrenching to see, and exactly why we place such an importance on being part of the ongoing solution,” said Lynette. Despite the initial dismay, the event was marked by a spirit of positivity and communal effort. A special mention goes to Sharon and her mother, Lolli, who is 82 years old, for their unwavering support since the first clean-up in 2022. So, what did we find? We documented all the items collected using the Dirty Dozen method that our partner, The Beach Co-Op, uses. This highlights the top offenders, and the stats matter as it helps identify trends and in turn possible solutions. There is a lot of work being done in South Africa at a national level in terms of manufacturing laws and innovation in recycling of items. The variety of items seen during the clean-up was staggering, from everyday items like toothbrushes and lighters to unexpected finds like pregnancy tests. “The number of toothbrushes we found was unbelievable,” says Lynette. “And lighters! All of them with the metal piece missing which could indicate it is from a marine transit spill. There were numerous buoys of all sizes.” Gratitude to Kayleigh Lamprecht, our Morukuru Beach Lodge Manager, who worked hard behind the scenes ensuring all the logistics come together for the day. Kayleigh was alarmed at the number of plastic bottles found, surprised at finding tin cans, and even half a refrigerator! Thank you to CapeNature for arranging additional bags as part of their “Don’t Be Trashy” campaign and removing all the waste collected along the coastline. Two trucks were weighed – the first truck was 1940kg and the second truck was 1780kg. The total weight of rubbish removed was a whopping 3720kg – that is nearly 4 tons. There was a considerable amount of rope collected which measured 196m (643ft) in total - rope is often trapped under the sand so some muscle is needed to remove it. Why does it matter? Marine pollution is impacting our marine and terrestrial world with entanglements and ingestion. Unfortunately, on the clean-up, we did find a deceased turtle hatchling, which we reported to our conservation partner, the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, who this year took in over 570 hatchlings - the highest number they have recorded. Many of these hatchlings suffer from having ingested small plastic pieces, so playing our part in removing this from the environment matters. We also continued our assault on nurdles, the tiny round plastic pellets that make up the basis of plastic products, that have sadly washed up along the South African coastline from numerous container spills. As the Morukuru Family and Morukuru Goodwill Foundation, we remain committed to this cause, determined to keep the beaches clean and raise awareness about the importance of reducing plastic waste. The heartfelt efforts of everyone involved inspire hope for a cleaner, more beautiful coastline. As we reflect on the success of this year's event, we look forward to continued collaboration and greater participation in the future. Together, we can turn the tide against beach pollution and ensure these natural wonders remain pristine for generations to come.