Ever since I learned about Partridge Island, the creepy island on Saint John’s West Side, I’ve always wanted to go explore the old structures that are still standing. I’ve heard of many people crossing the dangerous breakwater, jeopardizing their lives climbing over jagged boulders from the mainland to the island, but I was always more concerned about my safety (mostly my clumsiness), and have never taken the risk to see it myself. So, when I was approached by Jim Donahue from River Bay Adventures, a local kayaking company, to help organize a beach/island cleanup along Partridge Island, I jumped on the opportunity!
Organizing this cleanup was easy. I knew that I would have no problem finding volunteers and sponsors. After making a few phone calls, we were fortunate enough to have Cecil McCavour from DMK Marine Services agree to volunteer his time and his boat to help with transporting supplies and garbage. Port Saint John also kindly sponsored our lunch for the event.
On Saturday, September 21 (International Coastal Cleanup Day), 17 eager volunteers arrived bright and early at Bayshore Beach. The sun was shining, and the winds were mild, making it the perfect day for kayaking on the Harbour. Once everyone was geared up, we all hopped into tandem kayaks and paddled over to the island. Since I had never been there before, I had no idea what sort of things I would find. When we arrived, garbage bags and gloves were passed around and the cleanup commenced!
The beach that we landed on was littered with marine debris (i.e. ghost rope, plastic and Styrofoam) likely brought in from the tides. But towards some of the old remaining buildings is where we found the bulk of the garbage and evidence that many people leave their trash laying around when visiting. It was clear that the people that crossed the dangerous breakwater were there to have a good time. Lots and lots of empty beer cans and broken beer bottles were found scattered throughout the buildings, including a great deal of old food wrappers and unidentifiable garbage. Some of the buildings were dark, damp, and in my opinion, very spooky. The floors in these places were covered with garbage, as if the darkness of the bunkers hid the debris enough that no one would notice or care.
I can’t imagine anyone has ever bothered to cleanup this island, probably due to the difficulty of transporting bags of garbage across the breakwater. Hence why I think the garbage has pilled up for so long. Having this experience was eye opening to me that people are still littering and think it is ok to leave their garbage laying around. I hope that people realize that any garbage you leave behind doesn’t disappear after you leave the area. Some items take years, or even decades/ centuries, to decompose!
After 3.5 hours, we were able to cleanup and dispose of approximately 440lbs of garbage and marine debris! Thank you to everyone that participated!
Overall, this was a fantastic event that was enjoyed by all volunteers. I hope to make this an annual event where we can bring out many more volunteers and continue to cleanup the garbage that is left behind. Stay tuned as we plan for the 2nd Annual Partridge Island Cleanup in 2020!
P.S. STOP LITTERING, IT’S NOT COOL.
All pictures were taken by ACAP Saint John’s Executive Director, Graeme Stewart-Robertson.