Paddlers for FNQ charity /Newsport

World-first paddle for FNQ charity

Thursday March 6 2014

A paddle boarding expedition across the Bass Strait has raised money for a Port Douglas-based marine conservation group.

Paddle boarders Brad Gaul, 35, Jack Bark, 19 and Zeb Walsh, 31, completed the epic 300-kilometre journey in eight days, arriving at Petal Point, Tasmania on Tuesday evening.  

Tangaroa Blue has received $1,000 in donations from the ride which aimed to raise awareness and funds for the charity's marine debris research.

The group's founder, Heidi Taylor said the paddlers used cyber tracking devices to gather data during their trip.

"It's a very remote area and a place we didn't really have much information on," she said.  

"That's all fed into our national data base and then we try to find out what trends we're seeing in specific areas."

In 2011, Tangaroa Blue successfully led a campaign to have plastic bait bands banned from vessels at sea in Western Australia.

Ms Taylor said research compiled by volunteers found the bands' - which are used on cardboard boxes - were a threat to seals, sea lions and sharks.

"That led to the change in legislation making it illegal to carry the packing tape on board any boat," Ms Taylor said.

The journey is the first time anyone has travelled on a paddle board across the Bass Strait.

Ms Taylor said the trio had initially intended to leave later this month but were concerned about weather conditions.  

"They really wanted to show that it could be done and they've been planning it for a long time," she said.

"On day two and three they got stuck on Hogan Island."

Ms Taylor said the paddlers started at Waterloo Bay at Wilson's Promontory and covered more than 40 kilmotres every day they paddled.

A second man started paddling the Sydney Basin last Sunday, Ms Taylor said, starting in Manly.

The trip is expected to take two weeks.

Ms Taylor said research gathered from the paddle board trips was invaluable.

"If we just do clean ups that's great but it's a never ending process," she said.

"We need to understand what's on the beach and the impact it has.

"Then you need to identify what needs to change to stop that from happening."

Tangaroa Blue will conduct clean ups at Lizard Island and Cape Kimberley this April.

Ms Taylor said more than five thousand people have volunteered with Tangaroa Blue throughout far north Queensland.