Disturbing discovery in popular lake

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

 

BURIED beneath the surface of one of the Gold Coast's most popular lakes lies a disturbing hidden world that environmentalists fear could choke the city's tourism.

Everything from drowned birds entangled in fishing gear, to near-new bikes is lurking in the picturesque Lake Orr in Varsity Lakes, and one woman has made it her mission to clean it up.

"What a horrible way to go for a bird to become entangled in a crab pot, with your wings trapped before you slowly drown," Two Llamas Environmental and Social Projects founder Chantal Clarke said.

A dead bird trapped in a crab pot in Varsity Lakes' Lake Orr. Picture: Two Llamas Environmental & Social Projects
A dead bird trapped in a crab pot in Varsity Lakes' Lake Orr. Picture: Two Llamas Environmental & Social Projects

"It's not acceptable that this is allowed to happen."

Ms Clarke now spends "every day" cleaning up lakes around Varsity Lakes and Robina, and hosts public events with a handful of dedicated volunteers most weeks.

Lake Orr is the Coast's worst, she said.

Armed with paddleboards and spotters on dry land, the group use extendible claws to collect rubbish below the surface.

Gold Coast woman Chantal Clarke, founder of Two Llamas Environmental & Social Projects. Picture: Supplied.
Gold Coast woman Chantal Clarke, founder of Two Llamas Environmental & Social Projects. Picture: Supplied.

The details of what is found is entered into a nationwide database, to help with government policy making on environmental issues.

Cigarette butts, bottles and cans are the most common finds, though plastic bags are much more rare since the bag ban was introduced.

Mo-bikes were also a common discovery when the public bikes were available on the Coast, Ms Clarke said.

A bike found dumped in Varsity Lakes' Lake Orr. Picture: Two Llamas Environmental & Social Projects
A bike found dumped in Varsity Lakes' Lake Orr. Picture: Two Llamas Environmental & Social Projects

There is a lot of work that happens behind the scenes, from avoiding bull sharks to sterilising equipment to prevent cross-contamination in local lakes.

But the climate change scientist said without the hard labour, the city would be suffocated by rubbish.

"I know what's happening in the world because I've done the modelling and I've run the scenarios and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't terrified," she said.

Year 8s from Arcadia College help to remove rubbish from three lakes around Robina. Picture: Two Llamas Environmental & Social Projects
Year 8s from Arcadia College help to remove rubbish from three lakes around Robina. Picture: Two Llamas Environmental & Social Projects

"It's just going to get worse and worse and we're going to lose our tourism revenue and our jobs if it keeps going like this.

"It's embarrassing and disgraceful how much trash there is, you cannot walk a metre without seeing something on the ground in a lot of suburbs … people will stop coming, there won't be anything left to see."

Ms Clarke said often she saw the same people dumping their rubbish week after week.

"It's so frustrating to see people who deliberately trash the environment, it's almost a rebellious thing, they do it on purpose," she said.

 

Volunteers clear Gold Coast waterways. Picture: Two Llamas Environmental & Social Projects
Volunteers clear Gold Coast waterways. Picture: Two Llamas Environmental & Social Projects

"There's also a lot of smokers, who for them it's a habit to flick their cigarette butts, I can tell it's the same person by the brand who week after week leaves them lying around in the same spot."

People can register to help either on the water or dry land, through the Two Llamas Facebook page.



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