Clean-up at Warrnambool's Shelly Beach uncovers mystery plastic litter

Litter problem: A photo posted by the Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Campaign group shows the white plastic objects at Warrnambool's Shelly Beach.
Litter problem: A photo posted by the Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Campaign group shows the white plastic objects at Warrnambool's Shelly Beach.

A beach clean-up last weekend revealed thousands of tiny white plastic objects washed up at a Warrnambool beach.

Marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd conducted a clean-up at Warrnambool’s Shelly Beach, removing hundreds of the objects – which they identified as cotton buds.

The organisation’s marine debris campaign team went to investigate the site and posted on social media, calling for information on the source of the litter.

“These cotton ear buds shown below have been washing up in their thousands at beautiful Shelly Beach in Warrnambool, Victoria, and have been the focus of our clean-up crew over the weekend,” the post said.

“Yesterday they visited the site to investigate further after 2000 were removed by a group of concerned volunteers on Sunday.

“Even after so many were picked up there were still hundreds left in the seaweed and scattered across the beach.”

The white plastic cotton buds did not appear to have been in water for long.

“One thing is for sure, they are all plastic and will just keep breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces becoming micro plastics and ingested by fish and sea birds,” the post said.

Warrnambool volunteers associated with the organisation regularly conduct debris clean-ups, with 1000 pieces of plastic weighing more than 120 kilograms removed from swimming beaches in July.