Over two tons of rubbish removed from Xemxija Bay for World Oceans Day

Blue skies and relentless sunshine was the order of the day on Saturday 8th June, when 50 volunteers from 12 different organisations and volunteer groups came together to pull over 2.25 tons of rubbish from Xemxija Bay. This latest iGEN environmental initiative, in support of World Oceans Day, was a collaboration between volunteers from our members and affiliated companies, their friends and families, and divers from No To Plastic Malta and Raniero’s Adventures to clear the seabed, beach, and boundaries of Simar Nature Reserve.

The morning was already hot when I was kindly transported to the cleanup site by Rob Jones of NoID at 08:00 am. We arrived at the slipway at around 08:30, in time for a meeting with dive leader Adrian Sultana, plus his brother Edward and Raniero Borg from Raniero’s Adventures, plus Andrew Crosby from Aloha Gaming, who had gallantly volunteered to be onshore co-ordinator at the slipway, as well as sponsor of the air tanks and potato sacks used for collecting seaborn waste. The skip was nowhere to be seen, but after a few phone calls the lorry carrying the skip arrived, reversing down the steep slope to deposit the container on the quayside.

After setting up base camp and erecting our flags, there was just time for a coffee at a local bar before the divers set off in a dingy to locate some large objects previously spotted out in the bay, and prepare them for later recovery. At around 09:30 people started to arrive, and we were soon busy explaining the different segments of the cleanup and dividing people into teams according to preference. Previous scouting meant that we already knew that the small beach was inundated with plastic, and we soon dispatched the first group, mostly volunteers from Kindred, who had brought a number of children with them, to begin the task of combing the sand and seaweed – it is always great to see young children learning about caring for the environment hands-on.

A group from Light and Wonder had arrived with their snorkeling gear, and we soon had them, together with some other snorkel volunteers, out in the turquoise water clearing the seabed of plastic and other rubbish, placing their finds in potato sacks for ease of transportation under water, scouring the seabed from Beachaven Complex down to the beach. Volunteers from Bet365 led by Camilla Engelin, plus KPMG Malta – led by Edward Cachia Zammit and Russell Mifsud – took the challenge and headed over to the boundaries of Simar Nature Reserve, where years of windblown rubbish was ingrained in the bushes and trees, and they were soon filling sack after sack. 

Anna Dobrovolska and her crew from 1Gamechanger plus family members were soon busy clearing the vegetation north of the slipway, and photographer Vlad was busy with his camera documenting the day. Rob Jones took it upon himself to scour the small beach area adjacent to the slipway, ably assisted by Madeleine Nadine, who had heard about the clean-up and came to volunteer her services. Alberto De Nova with snorkel was also soon out in the water, where he quickly filled two potato sacks with trash.

After a while Edward from No To Plastic Malta and Simon from Beachhaven were back with a boat full of junk, ropes, car tires and various other items, and we called in all hands to help carry the finds to the skip. iGEN’s Enrico and Manal from Bragg joined the teams clearing the nature reserve, eventually to be joined by 1Gamechanger. Two designated collection points for the black bags had previously been agreed with the Cleansing Department, one by Simar and one at the slipway, and each sack was carefully weighed and the result noted down before being placed ready for collection.

Glen from iGEN was soon up to his waist in the sea at the beach, pulling out reams of plastic and fishing line, carpet tiles, plus old weights and plastic flotation bottles still tied with old ropes half buried in the sand. Various friends had also come along to lend a hand, and Serena Ioan and Richard John were also busy cleaning along the nature reserve railings and in the wooded area behind. 

The video from the underwater cleanup, showing just how much rubbish is littering the seabed.

Back at the slipway more boatloads were soon coming in, and the skip was beginning to fill up, with the addition of the contents of the potato sacks brought by the snorkelers. Iron pipes, plastic bottles, roadside bollards and more car tires and lengths of old rope were almost half way up the container sides. Josh from Growth Gurus arrived to lend a hand, and as Raniero Borg and Adrian Sultana were bringing larger objects being moved with the help of flotation bags, he joined the crew on the beach to help drag the heavy objects out of the water and manhandle them over the sides of the skip. Two abandoned green waste containers were brought up, as well as a giant awning branded with a famous beer brand. The skip was full to overflowing, but the sad fact is that there was still a lot of rubbish and plastic on the seabed, hopefully to be collected at another time.

By now the sun was really beginning to beat down, and as the cleanup moved towards it’s conclusion people were flagging, and soon began making their way up towards Beachaven, and a well-deserved rest in the shade, with a cold drink in their hands. The atmosphere was one of celebration, and happy faces and the sound of laughter were everywhere, as we gathered for one final group shot on the pontoon deck. The sacks were collected by CleanMalta, and the skip was also removed, and all traces of the event were soon gone – apart from the fact that over two tons of rubbish had been extracted from the sensitive environment of Xemxija Bay, in the space of just 2.5 hours.

The final total has now been calculated, and we collected 2257.6 KGs of trash during our cleanup. 260.6 kgs from the black bags, and a whopping 1997 kgs from the skip. Well done and a huge thank you to everyone who gave up their time and energy for this most worthy of causes. Till next time!

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