For Marine Action Conservation Society (MACS) founder Tim Jack Adams, it was the moment he saw an 80-year-old loggerhead turtle floating lamely on the water’s surface near Cook Island. It had ingested a plastic bag, which was preventing it from diving and condemning it to a slow and painful death. It was the final straw for the Kingscliff resident.
Mr Adams, 31, founded not-for-profit group MACS in early 2012 after the incident, which occurred while he was taking customers of his business -Watersports Guru – out for a dive near the island off Fingal Head.
“For me, that really killed me. It got to me really badly,” he said.
“We had 10 customers on the boat, just about to head into the water to snorkel with these amazing creatures and then you see that, combined with the plastic bags littered around.”
Mr Adams, who was swimming in the Tweed area as soon as he could walk, said from that point in time the founding of MACS was a no-brainer. The philosophy for MACS is deceptively simple; the group aims to improve coastal ecosystems through conservation, activism, research, education and sustainability. Always keeping busy, Mr Adams is a Kingscliff Rotarian and member of the town’s business chamber, so he had the necessary clout to gather momentum for MACS’s important cause.
“We work really well with Dunecare, Australian Seabird Rescue and the Rotarians are all great too,” Mr Adams said.
“It only takes one person to make that difference and help out. We have so many people helping out now. They just come down to the creek or wherever and pick up rubbish and just keep the area as it should be. One of our helpers Rayna is always coming out on the creek with her kayak collecting rubbish. She’s really like the town’s unsung hero.We have a lot of people involved like that. Some might just help out for a day, but it all helps.”
Impromptu rubbish collection is definitely not the only important goal for Mr Adams and his MACS team. Working with Tweed schools, MACS has been restoring Cudgen Creek’s riverbanks and marshes to prevent continuous erosion and ensure a healthy eco-balance in the saltwater creek. More than 200 trees, consisting of banksia and other native species, have been planted by MACS and more are on the way.
“We realise eco-tourism is important; we realise people come here because it’s green and clean,” Mr Adams said.
“Another short-term goal is to get rid of plastic bags in the Tweed Coast, we already know there’s seven shires doing it, and (endeavouring) to work out a good biodegradable bag. The bags are an eyesore around here and if we can get rid of them we’ll all be stoked.”
Work continues on these current goals, as MACS collaborates with Tweed businesses and wider contributors to find a shopping bag which will function like a plastic bag, but will not put marine life at risk.
Mr Adams had no trouble naming a particularly memorable moment among all the activism, citing the official MACS launch day release of a rescued turtle, fittingly dubbed Macs, in October 2012. ”I’ve been looking out for him at Cook Island, because I definitely know what he looks like after he flapped around in my bathtub for three months,” he said with a laugh.
For more information about MACS, or if you’d like to lend a hand, visit http://www.macs-cares.org.
Did you know?
Marine turtles are protected under state and Northern Territory legislation.
Loggerhead turtles occur in coral reefs, bays and estuaries in tropical and warm temperate waters off the coast of Queensland, NT, WA and NSW.
In Australia, there are two breeding populations. The eastern population nests on the southern Great Barrier Reef and adjacent mainland coastal areas. In south-eastern Queensland, mating starts about late October.
They nest from late October until March.
Hatchlings emerge from nests from late December until about April.
Loggerhead turtles are carnivorous, feeding mostly on shellfish, crabs, sea urchins and jellyfish.
Loggerhead turtle carapace has 5 pairs (rarely 6) of large scales on each side (costal scales), colour red-brown to brown and approximately 1.0 metre.
Source: Australian Government Dept of Environment