The couple collected 27 syringes while walking their dogs on a 300m strip of beachfront between Albert Park and Port Melbourne last Monday.
They are regulars at the beach with their dogs and make a point of collecting any rubbish they find, but while they have found syringes before, it was the quantity of their find that led them to speak out.
“The dogs go searching and playing around here and I was so scared they were going to step on one,” Knowles said.
Elyse Knowles and Josh Barker with some of the syringes they found. Picture: Instagram
“But people walk along here every day and it could be a child that finds one or steps on one. It is just so dangerous.
“These syringes are coming from somewhere, whether they are being washed up from the water, meaning they are in the ocean, they might be coming out through the rivers, or people might be dumping them with no care.
“We became really angry.”
Barker said rubbish often congregated in the area where they found the syringes.
“When there is not an onshore wind we often think, ‘wow, the beach is pretty clean’, but then you get an onshore wind and all the rubbish gets blown in from the ocean and unfortunately there are a lot of syringes in that rubbish,” he said.
“About half of them were uncapped, a lot of them were bent, possibly from people chucking them down the drain, and then they wash through and end up on the beach.”
Both Knowles and Barker acknowledged there was no easy or quick fix to the problem, but hoped people would take responsibility for safely disposing of their waste and have respect for the environment.
Port Phillip mayor Bernadene Voss said the council conducted almost daily clean-ups to ensure the beach was free from syringes.
“This includes regularly mechanically raking all beaches in Port Phillip, manual litter-picks and an on-call, reactive service,” she said.
Article by Fiona Byrne