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San Cristóbal Island Coastal Clean-up

Coastal clean-up

Mon, Feb 18, 2008
San Cristóbal Island, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

The event that started it all

This was the first event organised by the founders of Sustainable Coastlines. It began a journey that continues to this day, with an ethos of participation, motivation and a simple, practical activity that is open to the entire community.

In 2007, kiwi surfers James Bailey and Sam Judd travelled to the Galapagos Islands in search of waves and to experience the amazing endemic wildlife on land and epic marine life underwater.

They encountered an incredible ecosystem – the same unique flora and fauna that inspired Charles Darwin towards forming his theory of evolution. After months enjoying the islands, they decided that they wanted to give something back to the coastlines that had given them so much enjoyment.

They embarked on a trip as volunteers for the Galapagos Islands National Park, to comb the coastlines of an uninhabited stretch of Isabela Island for 8 days on the 50 year old fishing vessel El Senor Manuel de Los Reyes. What they found was immense and inspiring- fresh lava flows on a moon-like landscape, endemic animals such as marine iguanas in their natural habitat and swam with manta rays from the side of their proud but decrepit vessel. They also removed 1.6 tonnes of rubbish from the coastline between 5 people over 8 days.

Realising that the area was unpopulated and finding an intact package addressed from USA to Costa Rica made them realise that marine debris floats across our oceans. Finding endemic animals choked to death in plastic rubbish then made them realise that plastic rubbish on the coast is a very serious issue.

After the trip, a series of events unfolded that led to the foundation of Sustainable Coastlines. The boys were invited to help with a clean-up on San Cristobal Island, where they had been living. Deciding to put in their best efforts, they managed to mobilise the entire community of the island and remove 7.5 tonnes of rubbish in one morning. While these results are impressive (and worrying) this achievement was dwarfed by the effect that the event had on the local community: This was the first time ever that all the different sectors of the community on San Cristobal (many of which are constantly at loggerheads and refuse to even sit in the same room) had worked together for a common cause.

They had school and university groups, scouts, the National Park rangers, NGOs, the Navy, the Police, the local municipality, tourism operators, the fishing community, travelers and many others working together. If proved that when something is so important as to effect everyone and the global environment, that people can achieve great things when they work as a team.