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Gumurr Marthakal RangersThe Gumurr Marthakal Rangers are based at Galiwiníku (Elcho Island) and manage a large area at the north-east tip of Arnhem Land. They were a founding member of GhostNets Australia and have been continuously involved in the program from the beginning.
The community are concerned about the levels of rubbish and nets washing ashore on their coastline and are managing this through their involvement with GhostNets Australia, as well as through other independent initiatives they undertake throughout the year.
In 2002, the World Wide Fund for Nature worked with the Rangers and conducted two extensive marine debris surveys at Galiwiníku on Banthula and Gitan beaches. In 2003 Banthula Beach was re-surveyed. The results showed plastics, including nets, made up 83.6% of the total rubbish collected during the survey. It is believed that very little of this debris originates from the local community.
The long chain of islands extending north east from Elcho Island, the Wessel Islands, are thought to act like a marine sieve and collect much of the debris that washes from the Gulf of Carpentaria. In May 2010 and May 2011 the Rangers spent three weeks removing and recording marine debris and nets from Rrimbitja and Marchinbar Islands, the most northern point of both the Wessel Island Chain and the Northern Territory.
The rangers recorded 631 ghost nets (estimated to be 48.5 tonnes) in May 2010 and 465 ghost nets (estimated to be 66 tonnes) in May 2011. They also found dozens of dead sea turtles entangled in the nets.
The huge number of nets found on Rrimbitja and Marchinbar Islands sadly highlights the magnitude of the problem and the impacts that they will be having on wildlife and the marine ecosystem.
Gumurr Marthakalís coastline is a mixture of sandy beaches, mangroves and rocky outcrops/cliffs.
For more information, visit the website at www.marthakal.org
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