Monday, 29 April 2013

Cootes Paradise Cleanup

It seems I’ve been doing a lot of this kind of stuff lately. Still not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Guess it’s good I and others are doing it – just bad it needs to be done at all.

The Stewards of Cootes Watershed have been coordinating periodic cleanups in and around Cootes Paradise in the last year. The amount of crap they’ve been hauling out there has been really impressive. Slightly less impressive when you consider that there is any need at all to remove dozens of tires and dozens of shopping carts and hundreds of bags of garbage out of a gem of a spot at all.

Being really fond of the place, I wanted to go down and help. The spot being tackled today was at Princess Point.

Beavers are making an appearance again in this area after being away for quite some time. Not sure what they’re planning on doing with these though, if anything. One felled right beside the other.
Got there earlier than the appointed time, so I got a brew on, pulled out Mongoliad and read for a while.
This fella came strutting by while I sat and had a cup of tea and read my book. I believe this is a hybrid goose.
Two maps of the area we were in.
Various critters, both human and avian floating and paddling on the water.
Some people out on Princess Point proper. The earliest archeological evidence of agriculture in Ontario is right here. 
Dave and Gunther across the mouth of the Chedoke Creek from me.
Second bucket of trash I collected. 
And to any of the ladies reading this, I just want to say...when you flush your goddamn tampon applicators down the toilet, they “go somewhere” all right....namely the shoreline of a picturesque body of water. I cleaned up 37 of them maybe a ten square meter area. And the other thing is one of those cigarello mouth pieces. I collected about twice as many of those. Gawd, people are disgusting.
While this particular photo was taken about a year ago, along the shore of Cootes Paradise, it demonstrates the problem. While all the bottles and tampon applicators and all the other detritus of “humanity” are just plain unsightly, the bigger problem is that years and decades of ultra-violet light and the action of waves and rocks, grind all that plastic down into little pieces. I spent quite a bit of my time picking up little itty bitty bits. Not doing it leads to awful sights like this. Animals dying pointless deaths from having their insides filled with plastic. (Although I should point out that while this photo is not of one taken here, but of a bird found on Midway in the Pacific, I doubt it is a problem endemic only to that part of the world.)
To birds it just looks like berries or bugs or whatever else their tiny brains think they can eat.
8 people, 3 hours, maybe 200 meters of shoreline. Sad that it needs to happen at all. The tire in the middle was my find. Although it represents only one of many dozens that have been retrieved from Cootes in the last year. According to Tys Theysmeyer, an Aquatic Ecologist and Head of Conservation for Royal Botanical Gardens, in the 15 years he’s been at his job, he has found the carcasses of 4 snapping turtles that have somehow become trapped in tire rims.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead


  1. Thanks for mucking in with us Thomas and thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos. All are welcome to join us with have 3 more cleanups coming up May on the 5th, 11th and 26th. Register at

    Probably good to mention that the photo of the bird carcass with plastic in its stomach is not of a bird found at Cootes. It is undocumented at this time if any wildlife is dying at Cootes from plastic ingestion - common sense and evidence from other locales would dictate that its an issue to take seriously. Dr. Jim Quinn at McMaster is starting to have his students examine stomach contents when they are doing bird autopsies.

    Hung up fishing line on the other hand is a documented killer of birds at Cootes.

    1. True, I should credit the photo as one taken of an albatross found on Midway in the Pacific, from having ingested some of the state sized blob of plastic floating around in that ocean. Just wanted to demonstrate the point.