Described by David Attenborough in 1995 as 'one of the world's greatest surviving natural treasures', Aldabra Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is under threat from increasing marine plastic pollution. Aldabra has a rich and diverse ecosystem that includes the last remaining giant tortoise population in the Indian Ocean (and the largest in the world), pristine marine ecosystems and large colonies of seabirds, all of whom are at great risk from the tonnes of ocean trash that wash onto the atoll's shores every year.
The tortoises are now eating flip-flops; the birds and endangered marine turtles are suffering from entanglement and ingesting the plastic. It is not too late to protect Aldabra, to retain it as a beacon for future generations and to use this project to explain and promote the urgent need for people across the world to demand change in the use of plastics.
Uninhabited as the atoll is, those of us who have been lucky enough to spend some time there must bring its plight to public attention and ask people to help create a solution for the future.
We will charter a cargo vessel to Aldabra in March 2019 and stay for between three and five weeks, gathering as much plastic and marine debris as possible– from flip-flops to toothbrushes, fishing nets to water bottles – all to be taken back to Mahé, Seychelles' largest island, for proper processing. Whilst undertaking the clean-up, we will endeavour to analyse the waste to identify where the plastic has come from and quantify just how much this place is impacted by humanity. We will keep a blog to regularly share our findings on our Twitter and Instagram pages, culminating in an academic report. Both in the lead up to and following the March expedition, we will reach out to primary and secondary schools to engage and inspire young people to learn about Aldabra, minimise their use of plastic and support this project.
We will hold a variety of events across Oxford, both within the University and the city, to spread the word amongst different communities, and, with the help of our social media reach, encourage all to take action and cut down on their use of plastic.
Who are WE?
Six young conservationists from the UK, France and Belgium: four from The Queen’s College and one from each of Jesus College and Merton College, at the University of Oxford. We are graduate students in biological and materials sciences. April Burt is our Project Lead: prior coming to Oxford, she managed the research team on Aldabra and specialises in marine and terrestrial habitat monitoring and conservation.
Six young Seychellois conservationists from the main island will complete the team on Aldabra.
The Seychelles Island Foundation (SIF) , a non-profit charitable organization that manages and protects Seychelles' two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Aldabra Atoll (Aldabra) and the Vallée de Mai. Trustees include Sir Tim Smit, founder of The Eden Project and Dr Lindsay Turnbull, Biological Sciences Fellow at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford. SIF maintains a small research team on Aldabra, the only people who live (temporarily) on the atoll.
Media Partners and Corporate Sponsors will share our story, the catastrophic effects of plastic pollution and the immediate and effective action individuals can take to reduce the amount of single use plastic used in the UK and globally.
Schools, community groups and individual supporters will be able to follow our activities and communicate with us on Aldabra as well as taking personal, individual pledges and actions that we will share through our social media channels and media partners.
How you can help
The project will cost £150,000:
· £80,000 to charter a cargo boat to collect and transport the waste 1,000 km from Aldabra to the main Seychelles
· £40,000 to get us to Aldabra: return flights to the Seychelles, a chartered plane to Assumption Island, and finally a boat to Aldabra.
· £15,000 Project equipment including sacks and slings for collection.
· £15,000 Consumables such as food, fuel, accommodation and insurance costs.
Once on the atoll, we will be living frugally, committing all our energy to clearing as much of the plastic and fishing debris as possible.
We have already raised £30,000 thanks to our silver sponsors Noble Caledonia and bronze sponsors Utilita Energy - thank you for your support! The Seychelles Islands Foundation is offering a £20,000 matched funding pot to help raise the remaining £120,000 by the autumn, to ensure we are able to commit to undertaking the project in March 2019. Of course we are looking to add to our sponsors, so if you know a business you think might be interested in supporting us, please let us know!
If we do not meet our target we will need to downscale the project but will still aim to complete a clean-up expedition targeting the main turtle nesting beaches. We will still aim to complete our outreach and education work as well as some of our scientific aims.
If your gifts exceed our target, then the extra funds will be used to up-scale the project, specifically in regard to waste management and processing. We would like to investigate ways in which the waste can be re-used and recycled.
Your support will enable us to solve the immediate problem of plastic pollution at one of the world's most iconic natural sites but also help us promote change in the way we use plastics. We can join the plastic revolution!
Sponsors will receive some unique rewards, from stunning wildlife photographs to a special drinks reception and even a High Table dinner in The Queen’s College, Oxford. Please see the right hand-side of the page for more information.
Find us here
Help us succeed!
While you can help this project happen by donating, you can also help by letting other people know about it. Please share this project with anyone who you think might be interested or might consider supporting it! Share it on Facebook, Twitter, or simply talk about it to other people!
This research will have an important conservation impact for Aldabra and hopefully contribute towards alleviating the global problem of marine plastic pollution. Please sponsor the project if you can, gifts of any size will make a difference! Thank you very much for your support.
The Aldabra Clean Up Team