Marine debris is one of the most significant issues facing oceans worldwide. The sources of this debris vary depending on proximity to urban centres and the nature of activities within an area. This paper examines the influence of tourism in the southern Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and its contribution to litter levels in the region. By conducting beach debris surveys on occupied and unoccupied islands, this study found that debris was prevalent throughout the region with significant differences in material types between locations. The greatest source of debris from publically accessible islands was tourist-related, with this source also influencing debris loads on nearby uninhabited islands. A focus on debris at Heron Island, showed that sites close to amenities had greater levels of tourist-sourced items like cigarette butts. These findings indicate the contribution of tourists to this problem and that working with operators and managers is needed to minimise visitor impacts.
- marine debris
- Great Barrier Reef