An outstanding team of planet lovers have, this Saturday June 8 2019, here on Gran Canaria, achieved an extraordinary new record for World Oceans Day, and (pending official verification) they hope to be recognised as Guinness World Record holders for the most nationalities ever gathered together to complete a beach clean.
Oceans4Life is a charitable association set up here on the island little over a year ago by British resident Julie Dass with her son Nathan, with a whole bunch of support from family and husband Dean, who have gathered a wonderful multinational team of volunteers to send a clear message for everyone to hear, that when people from all over the world work together they can achieve amazing things.
The event was attended by several hundred people, originating from across the globe, joined by many native islanders too including President of the Island’s Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales, and the island’s minister for the environment Consejero Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Sosa as well as teams from the Medioambiente (Environment) department volunteers program and the Cabildo’s Centro de Recuperación de Fauna, in Taliarte, all joining forces to celebrate World Oceans Day.
With busses having been organised picking participants up from Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, Arguineguín, Playa del Inglés & Maspalomas, and others coming from the capital and from all around the island, this was truly a unique gathering of peoples and there was a clear atmosphere of celebration throughout, with young and old joining to show that Gran Canaria is prepared to rise to the challenge of keeping its beaches clean in the face of the ever growing plastics pollution threat.
From 10am in the morning, all the participants gathered on the little known beach at La Gaviota, on the Jinámar coast nearest to the commercial centres of El Mirador and Las Terrazas, and together walked, wrapped in the flags and colours of their multitudinous countries, to register their passports with the volunteers who awaited them. Each nationality had a team captain appointed, and they wore hats, provided by The Market, Puerto Rico, each clearly marked with a number, allowing for the organisers to document their attendance with a group photo.
Together nearly 300 volunteers headed down to the beach and stood by their team captains, in front of the awaiting television and news crews, before spreading out across this secluded little beach to try and clear as much pollution as they could.
President Morales, well known as a staunch defender of environmental issues on the island, was clearly impressed by the World Oceans Day gathering, pointing out that the effort “adds two of the most important aspects of an environmental activity,” together.
“It contributes to clearing waste from a coastal environment of Gran Canaria, that has been most punished by plastics, as well as sending a very important message, which is that we must react to the planet’s environmental crisis urgently and together, from a global perspective” he said.
The United Nations have referred to it as a global catastrophe with an estimated 13,000,000 tons of plastic annually ending up in the ocean, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths among marine species every year.
Two of the most affected species are the loggerhead and leatherback turtles who regularly visit our waters around Gran Canaria, and who suffer the consequences of inconsiderate human activity.
The record breaking event culminated with the surprise release of a loggerhead, who had been rescued just four months ago, having suffered serious injury from a collision with a boat propeller, who has been recuperating at the island’s world renowned Centre for Wildlife Rescue, and in fact was the very first patient at the centre’s newly inaugurated operating theatre in Tafira. Rescuers have been caring for the turtle at the centre’s dedicated marine fauna facility in Taliarte, not far from the Jinámar beach, and decided now the specimen was fully recovered from the trauma, that World Oceans Day was a great day to reintroduce her to the sea.
So for a very special moment, having claimed our environmentalism world record that morning, the gathering of more than 67 nations paid homage to this beautiful, large turtle returning to the wild oceans, with our very best wishes for improvements to her natural environment.
We can’t promise the remedy for tomorrow, but we can start today to try and bring about the changes necessary to help ensure a better future for all.
A grand total of 67 different nationalities participated in the Oceans4Life World Oceans Day beach clean
They filled more than 75 large black bags with trash, mainly plastic, much of it tiny micro plastics and other litter blown in by the winds or washed ashore from the ocean, including thousands of plastic cotton buds.
Oceans4Life plan future beach cleans every month across the island.
They aim to make more people aware of the impact plastic is having on our ocean.
All nationalities all working together as a community.
The organisation has been highlighting to the Gran Canaria Cabildo and Canary Islands Autonomous Regional Government that they need to encourage and introduce ever more effective campaigns for Recycling Reducing and Re-using waste, minimising and where possible completely eradicating single use plastic.
The world record threshold, set by the official Guinness World Records authority is 60 nationalities working simultaneously on a single beach clean, so Oceans4Life needed a minimum of 61. With 67 nationalities having been verified and represented on the day, this event was definitely a record breaker!
Nearly 300 volunteers joined the 67 country representatives to show the amazing amount of support there is for saving this beautiful island from plastics and pollution.
Julie and Nathan Dass founded the association only a year ago. Their first beach clean attracted just 10 people. Today they have broken a world record, with the support, gratitude and love of Gran Canaria.
Oceans4Life will continue with monthly beach cleans and monthly visits into schools to help educate the children of the importance of environmental awareness.
They operate regular initiatives to promote recycling and show people where on the island alternatives can be found instead of using plastics.
Their primary mission has always been to reduce single use plastic here on the island of Gran Canaria, and with any donations they receive, the source alternative products to sell at cost to the general public.
They are aiming to create a cultre where, ideally, no plastic bags or plastic straws will be used on the island
Today Oceans4Life made history with the support of sponsors
Special thanks to all of the stewards and witnesses today: including
Super huge thanks to Steffi Ulmer, Julie’s amazing partner in crime on this project, who has had many sleepless nights helping organise such a huge and complicated event.
“Oceans4life is based on team work and we could not have been better supported by the amazing people in our charity.
So thanks to every one.”
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