We cleaned the harbours for clear sea on Ist island!

As part of a new project within the initiative “Together against marine litter”, entitled “Clean ports, clean sea!” we spent our summer activities for the last time in 2020 on an island we haven’t been to yet – IST!

On Wednesday, August 19, early in the morning we visited Ist for the first time and moving from one side of the island to the other, where we had an appointment with members of the Ist Youth Association, we realized that Ist is completely different from Silba and Olib – over the weekend we realized how different it actually is. A walk and getting to know the island, preparatory talks about the logistics of cleaning and setting up the exhibition were resolved in a pleasant atmosphere and we returned to our summer base on Silba waiting and preparing for the last in a series of activities from the summer tour of the project “Clean ports, clean sea!”

On Saturday, August 22, we loaded all the necessary things and equipment sufficient for two cleaning actions on the diving boat and headed towards Ist. Perfectly good weather and calm sea greeted us in a pleasant ride as we passed the beautiful Reefs. On Ist in the bay Kosirača (northern bay on the island) we were greeted by an already awakened and equipped team from UMIT, we handed them gloves and bags and they immediately “threw themselves into work” while we prepared our diving equipment. We also had good organized support on land. When we dived, the underwater situation was as expected at first – some carpets here and there, rope remains, bottles and old metal remains of long-discarded parts of machines that turned pink beyond recognition. But then unfortunately we went into an area that stunned us! Huge amounts of marine litter – plastic bottles, cans, shoe soles, and goods to equip several closets – all hidden in the outskirts of the Posidonia settlement that “stopped” that marine litter after it was deposited in the harbor. We tried to collect as much as possible, but over and over again we would come across more and more marine litter in such a small area. When it came time to surface, we had something to see- UMIT members and our land support pulled almost as much marine litter from the shallowest part of the bay as we did, with a dozen tires and other larger items. The action in Kosirača was very successful in terms of the amount of marine litter collected and the number of active young people who joined the action – however – we would certainly be happier if the pile of marine litter wasn’t larger than the “pile of people” gathered for this activity.

Surely this action will contribute to the port in Kosirača contributing to the idea behind the project “Clean ports, clean sea!” and that is for ports and harbors to cease to be a source of marine litter! The marine litter in this port was variegated – partly certainly created on the island, but a large amount of marine litter is actually caused by a strong mistral and tramontana wind that have the power to bring large amounts of marine litter from the open sea, and Kosirača Bay serves as a natural “funnel”. However, fortunately or unfortunately, the settlements of Posidonia took over that marine litter at the bottom so as not to return to the open sea again and allowed us to collect that marine litter. In ideal natural conditions, this flowering plant and its dense settlements serve as a “sediment trap” and a “blue carbon trap”, and now, on the example of Kosirača, it has also “served” as a “marine litter trap”.

After the completion of the port cleaning action, on the advice of the locals, we took a look at the situation at the ferry port on Ist – unfortunately, there was also a big amount of large and bulky marine litter that we were not able to collect at the time – however, we have plans to clean up that part of the port as well. After that brief overview of the situation, we moved to Široka Bay, taking a boat ride from the outside of Ist, enjoying the view of small and interesting islands and cliffs – Sestrice, Dužac, Funsetrula, Galiola and many others. In Široka, we tied up our boat and started preparing lunch and then continued working and threw ourselves into setting up an exhibition in the center of the village in a small park by the sea below the church – the so-called part of Ist – Pucrikvo.

Since we have never been to Ist before, we were greeted by many curious people and looks, but all very excited about what we are preparing for them tonight. We opened the night exhibition of underwater photos at 8pm- at dusk. The photos, once again, fit perfectly into the new ambiance and got a new home for a few hours. There were many visitors, they visited the exhibition in small private groups throughout the evening. Most of them were young people and children. A children’s birthday party was held nearby, so in anticipation of the cake, all the children decided to “spend” some time and visit us, our exhibition and paint a few coloring books that we had prepared for them.

Given that this small island often lacks content for locals and visitors, everyone enthusiastically accepted this new educational content and watched the photos as well as read the accompanying stories. We encouraged visitors to think about their waste habits and the amount of plastic they create. We have also linked all the threats posed by marine litter to other biological and environmental issues – protection, conservation and marine protected areas. The pleasant suggestive atmosphere of Pucrikvo fit perfectly into this exhibition, and we felt extremely welcome on this “unknown” island! We thank all visitors for coming and respecting the epidemiological measures on keeping distance in the open.

On Sunday morning we threw ourselves into the sea again with a few young people from UMIT. We dived again, as in Kosirača, thinking that the situation was relatively ok. UMIT members told us about an extensive action they organized a few years ago to extract large amounts of marine litter, especially bulky marine litter. Due to that fact, we expected a quick and easy cleaning action – however, we were wrong.

In the parts of the harbor where small valleys were created by the action of catamaran engines that dock at Ist – the valleys are filled with marine litter. Wherever you look, the view falls either on a plastic bottle, a glass, the sole of a shoe and much more. The sight is hard to describe in words and the photos are not credible enough either. This is an extremely large amount of marine litter, which at times unfortunately reminded us of the situation on Dugi otok in the bay Čuška dumboka in which an ecological catastrophe occurred 4 years ago when the contents of an illegal landfill slipped into the bay. At first, most of the structures at the bottom seem like stones, but in fact they were buried in plastic that is becoming more and more buried in the bottom by the catamaran engine lifting the sediment.

And as if that alone wasn’t enough, we found tires in the seabed – a multitude of tires, of various sizes, all over the bay. How exactly they ended up there we don’t want to speculate, but we’re glad they won’t release their toxic compounds into this beautiful bay anymore. At the end of the dive we realized that the job is unfortunately not over yet, with a brief look deeper we came across a few more dense accumulations of marine litter that we need to remove – we planned to do it soon, again in cooperation with dear and hardworking islanders!

After a short lunch break, we joined the young people who organized the transport of their marine litter from both actions to the ferry port Ist. There is a container of Zadar Purity – which we filled almost to half of its capacity . There was a lot of marine litter and the loading and unloading of everything collected took several hours, however, with the diligent hands of “miles” and young people, all the marine litter was safely loaded into the tank. We ourselves could not believe that it was such large quantities, however, for a moment the sight of this marine litter made us happy because we now know that it is no longer at the bottom of the sea polluting the sea, damaging Posidonia and poisoning many marine animals!

Thank you to all members of the 20,000 Leagues Society and members of partner organizations as well as the Ist Local Board. Great support for our activities was given by ŠRD Rarog Ist and employees of the Port Authority – Ist branch! And now we are throwing ourselves into making educational info boards that will be set up on these three islands!

The activities of this program are part of the Society’s 20,000 Leagues initiative “TOGETHER AGAINST MARINE LITTER” and the project “Clean ports, clean sea!” Society 20,000 Leagues whose implementation is co-financed by the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund and HEP. Let’s protect the environment together – co-financed by the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund.
The content of this program is the sole responsibility of the Society 20,000 leagues and under no circumstances can it be considered as a reflection of the position of the EPEEF and HEP.

The project partners are the Mavena Association with the Silba Environment Art organization, the SOL Association from Olib and the Ist Youth Association and BIUS.