By Lauren Reed
A dead sea turtle wrapped in fishing line was a reminder for the Mackay Coastal Cleanup volunteers of just how important it is to keep our beaches clean.
At the weekend, about 300 volunteers donned rubber gloves and collected an incredible 2689kg of waste from Lamberts Beach in Slade Point to Grasstree Beach near Sarina.
It was the inaugural Mackay Coastal Cleanup and the event is now scheduled to continue for at least the next three years.
Event co-ordinator Libby Edge said while the discovery of the sea turtle was distressing, she was overwhelmed with the response from the community.
"It was extremely successful... we're absolutely rapt," Ms Edge said.
"I get frustrated when people dump trash into the ocean, thinking it's out of sight, out of mind.
"Plastic ending up in our marine environment is causing detrimental harm to our vulnerable turtles, whales and marine creatures."
She said an estimated 60 to 80% of marine debris came from stormwater drains, a problem which could be fixed easily.
"If we had some sort of filtration system or net system to stop that debris washing from the roadsides, that's when we could get prevention from that percentage entering the marine environment," Ms Edge said.
"Prevention is crucial."
Ms Edge said she wanted to thank all the volunteers who took part as well as the many sponsors.