Tag Archives: Australia

Toxic Travellers – en route to a World Heritage Destination

Many of you would have seen the iconic image by Chris Jordan, of the Laysan Albatross chick, decaying full of plastic bottle caps and lighters. Indeed this may have been this image that changed your perception of plastic forever!

But that’s on an Island far far away, right? This couldn’t possibly be happening here in Australia? … well, you might be shocked to hear that  Australia’s very own Flesh-footed Shearwater, or Mutton-bird, may be the seabird most impacted by plastic on this planet..  One fledgling was found with over 275 pieces of plastic inside its body! That’s the equivalent to about 10kg in your belly! These gorgeous birds are under pressure from the impacts of humans, and have declined significantly in the last few decades.

this bird contained less than half as much plastic as the record holder.

As part of our ‘Save our Seabirds Project’ our latest expedition was to the World Heritage listed Lord Howe Island, a volcanic paradise 600km east of mainland Australia. This is the only island on the east coast of Australia where the Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Fleshies) breed, here we have joined renowned naturalist Ian Hutton and Dr Jennifer Lavers, founder of Save Our Shearwaters.



Ian is a wealth of knowledge on the wildlife of the island, curator of the local Lord Howe Island museum, conservationist, and award winning tour guide. Jenn is a powerhouse researcher, passionate about ‘her’ seabirds and marine plastic pollution, and the driving force behind the Two Hands Save Our Seabirds Project.


Lord Howe is truly one of the most beautiful islands in the world, a step back to a slower time, as the residents voted to keep their community free of mobile phones and there isn’t even phones or WIFI in the hotel rooms!  Back to good old pushbikes and leaving sticky-notes at various places! (Too many hills for the trusty old walkie talkies).

 But no moving slow for us, it’s a busy ten days working as Jenn’s field assistants (or ‘her slaves’ as she lovingly calls us…) Yes, it’s a very busy time, here on the island the Fleshies and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters are fledging, leaving their burrows and stretching their wings and flight muscles for the first time in the evenings. But we are here for the birds, and would rest no more without Jenn’s whip cracking.



So for us night-time is spent in the nesting colonies, catching fledglings to assess the effects of plastic ingestion. Some are still very skinny fluff balls, with too much down too survive the ocean, others are quite heavy birds with well-developed feathers. Size and weight are critical to help these fledglings survive their first migration and they all should be ready to go by now!

Early mornings we’re off to comb the beaches for half drowned, shivering birds that didn’t quite get away (we take them into care and feed them fish smoothies until we can release them for a second chance).  Mortalities are high, and these are taken to the lab.

Day time is spent processing samples from the night beforeP1020789TwoHandsProject and necropsying dead birds. Despite the birds ejecting their “bolus” (a mass of indigestible items that are in the chick’s stomach until they fledge) before leaving the colony, we still find plastic inside the dead birds. Even a balloon.

What really threw us, was the sheer amount of plastic bits in the colonies, plastic that could ONLY have been brought here by the shearwaters. Some are simply fragments, others are recognizable items from our everyday lives, even recognizable brands are found! This plastic has been in the ocean, and in many cases has come from our major cities in Australia. Sadly, despite Lord Howe Island being a protected area, marine plastic pollution doesn’t play by the rules. It crosses borders, invades marine parks and is a threat to wildlife everywhere.


Plastic pollu_SST1028_lowTwoHandsProjecttion has many sources and forms, from micro-beads in cosmetics, microfibres released from synthetic clothes each time you do the laundry, to consumer packaging including beverage bottles and caps.

_SST1411_LOWEven industrial plastic pollution is common, nurdles (plastic pellets used in plastic production) building site waste, and discarded fishing gear all pollutes our oceans.  And the birds.

The true solutions lie in designs that prevent plastic pollution from entering the oceans in the first place. Some objects are simply stupid, and should not exist. Plastic balloon ties for example or those sill red-nosed soy-fish from the sushi shop. Others could be effectively reclaimed with a basic refund system initiative.

P1020675_LOWCheekiAs a consumer your first step can be to avoid single use plastic packaging. Start with getting yourself one of our Save Our Seabirds Cheeki water bottle.
And our friends from Plastic Free July  make it easy for you and it is a great way to get started, with a whole community to support you and share ideas on avoiding contributing to the plastic pollution problem.

Give it a go.. as we say around here:  No Excuse For Single Use!

                                                           Paul& Silke



About: THP Web Banner 510px wide_ss_quad_LOWTwo Hands Project often partners with community and scientists across Australia and the globe, studying the extent and impacts of plastic pollution on our marine environments. And now has a High School program cleverly weaved into the National Geography and Science curriculum.


Tsunami Debris Expedition Fundraiser Auction Items

Auction and raffle items for the tsunami debris expedition fundraiser at Murrays at Manly on 15th May.

Our wonderful supporters have donated a whole lot of awesome experiences and products for our fundraising event at Murrays at Manly on the 15th May. We will have a raffle, silent auction and a live auction run by auctioneer Andrew Lutze from Cunninghams and MC, Wendy Harmer, comedian and editor of The Hoopla.

Starts 7pm. Check out the auction items!

Live auction items.

*Lady Elliot Island –Overnight incl. flights from Hervey Bayvalue $1130

Out on the frontier of the Great Barrier Reef exists a coral cay island ‘Lady Elliot’ where the coral reef is alive and teaming with life, where hands-on adventure and exploration are keys to this Australian holiday experience in a declared ‘Marine National Park Zone’.  It’s a special wild kind of a place where people come from all over the world and yet fit together, blend together within minutes of meeting each other through a common need.  That need is to be closer to nature and experience the environment and it’s creatures.

Lady Elliot Island, Great barrier reef coral cay – timelapse – South side from Quinton Marais


*Jervis Bay ECO Package–  total value of  $475

Stay overnight at Worrowing Eco Hut, a secluded studio style luxury cabin on 250 acre property neighbouring Jervis Bay National Park, self contained 1 queen bed, double spa bath, kangaroos & nature at your door.Only 3.5 min to beach or lake & the perfect coastal hideaway. Eco Hut Queen bed self contained studio,with double spa ,overlooking a natural bush setting in a secluded location with kangaroos ,wallabies and wildlife at your doorstep , neighbouring Jervis Bay National Park and nestled between the pristine waterways of St Georges Basin and Jervis Bay . Exclusive to couples and the perfect getaway experience. (value $275)

Worrowing Eco Hut

While you are in Jervis Bay you’ll also get two adult tickets from Extreme Whale &  Dolphin Watch Cruises  …very cool indeed, if you go in October you may catch some whales with calves! (value up to $160)

Extreme Whale Watching

After all the action you’ll have built up an appetite so enjoy your lunch at Pilgrims Wholefood Café, yum! (value $40).


*Oceanworld – Shark Dive Xtreme valued at $540

Two shark dive gift vouchers (Valid Monday-Friday) No experience needed- Many celebrities have done it,  Silke & Paul have even filmed the Amazing Race contestants in the shark tank!

Shark Dive Extreme

“>SDX Shark Dive Extreme Oceanworld Manly


*Double dive for Buddy team  at FISHROCK cave  (value at $260 )

From our mates at Fishrock Dive Centre, for certified divers.  If you’d like to see sharks in the wild this is for you, Australia’s longest Ocean Cave  famous for Grey Nurse Sharks!

Fishrock Cave


*Two Reusable Glowsticks  – donated by Dive Centre Manly (value $50)

For Scuba diving. One for you& your buddy – not more toxic single use cyalume glowsticks on your nightdives!


*Whitsunday Monster

This photo degrading Monster was found by Ben Ware in the Whitsundays – on a clean up with Two Hands Project Founders Paul & Silke.

Whitsundays Monster

From being a careless fishermen, Ben has turned around and dedicated his life to cleaning up the Whitsundays.  Check out his Whitsundays Plastic Pollution Page.  Just Ben and his Two Hands, in the little dinghy “Tintanic” –  day in day out.  He  is a true inspiration – Taking Two Hands in his own hands,  just what it’s intended to be.Anyone heading to the Whitsundays,  interested in beach cleaning should look him up.


*Driftwood Puppet by Angelika Treichler (reserve $200)

Angelika’s ideas were inspired by her art studies, she learned about Picasso’s, Schwitters’ and Duchamp’s ways of working with   L’Objet Trouve’  or ‘Found Art’ – Instead of creating your artwork from a preconceived idea, you start your work from a found object, that is not usually considered art. Something you find in your environment such as household objects or, in this case, things from the natural environment.I hope that my puppets inspire others to come up with good environmental art.”
All  pieces of driftwood  found under Manly Wharf, right where our famous Little Penguins nest.


*Silent auction items.

*WHALEWATCHING family pass Sydney Adventure Cruises  (value $215)  (2 adults and 2 kids) Have a whale of a time with the whole Family!

Sydney Adventure Cruises Whale Watching


*Pro Dive Central CoastHMAS ADELAIDE  Double DIVE for buddy team!! – (value $200)

Only for Certified divers. Retired navy  ship  HMAS Adelaide has been ‘repurposed’  to be an Artificial reef. Home to some amazing local marine life !

“>HMAS Adelaide

($18 per diver permit for Nat parks not included)


*Indoor Climbing family pass at Brookvales Rockhouse (value $65)


 – new bouldering wall & lead climbing ready!!  Take you’re whole  family somewhere local for an extraordinary experience of strength & technique and trust…;-)

*Certified Organic  towel set   (value $50)

From Eco Downunder.

2x certified organic bath Towels

2x certified organic hand Towels

2x certified organic face  Towels

Color: Driftwood

Just up the road in Balgowlah, and another shop in Mosman.


 *One  voucher for a term of classes at Djazzex – dance, yoga or  pilates . (value $140)

Dance yoga or pilates for any age!!


*Two Reusable Glowsticks,  Logbook folder, Two Scubapro hats & shirts  donated by Dive Centre Manly

For Scuba diving. One for you& your buddy – not more toxic single use cyalume glowsticks on your nightdives and you’ll look great in the Scubapro hats and shirts!


*Two Hands Project cleanup kit (value-priceless)

One clean up bucket, gloves, sticker and Two Hands Project CHEEKI waterbottle!


*Billabong Board shorts (value $79)

Made of RPET …. That’s recycled bottles!!! RECYCLER SERIES – ECO Airlite Stretch Size 33


*Raffle Prizes.

TBA on the night :) Lots of great stuff!







Celebrating our volunteers: Let’s hear it for the mermaids

Check out Sarah Mermaid’s story:

Sarah Mermaid is a Two Hands Project participant based in Sydney, Australia.

She also holds sustainable workshops for kids and adults where they reuse plastic found on the beach – turning them into works of art!

These straws have been used for approximately 10 minutes – they have another 300-400 years to live! Let’s make some cool mermaid art!