CLEANING UP: John Swadling, Hazel Hill, Pete Gibson, Graham Moore, Colin Harrison, Brian Stevenson and Christine Gibson found some interesting items while collecting rubbish along the salt marsh. Photos supplied

MOST of the time when the Apanui Saltmarsh Care Group volunteers meet on the second Saturday of each month the rubbish they collect is pretty much what one would expect – plastic bottles, beer cans and bits of expanded polystyrene, and so forth. There are significantly less plastic bags now they aren’t so readily available.

Last Saturday, however, the eight volunteers who took part found some much more unusual stuff. For a start there were 14 golf balls. One of the group had seen these being driven into the river over summer and tried, unsuccessfully, to dissuade the man doing it.

He obviously had no idea that the balls would wash down the river and eventually out into the ocean, where sea creatures could easily mistake them for food.

Also found were three dog balls. It is surprising that we don’t find more of these considering the number of people that walk their dogs beside the river. It would be good to think that people might be trying to keep balls out of the river, as they, too, float into the sea and add to the enormous floating garbage patch in the Pacific.

Two finds were quite unusual. A raft and a bike helmet. It would be interesting to know where they came from.

The last item, a home-made bong for smoking drugs, is not all that unusual a find, though the more common form of recreational left-overs are beer bottles and cans.

If anyone wants to become a volunteer with the group, all they need to do is to turn up at the car park on the corner of McAlister and Beach streets just before 8am on the second Saturday of each month.

All equipment is provided, but people should wear old clothes and gumboots and be prepared to risk getting muddy. The clean-up lasts for about an hour, after which those that want to go for refreshments at a local cafe. For more information people can contact convenor Colin Harrison on 07 3087974.

By Warner Haldane