SEEING her two-year-old child holding a syringe she found on a popular Hunter beach has prompted a Medowie mother to warn coastal visitors to take extra care.
Rebecca Wyatt said the incident, which occurred when she took daughter Sophie to Stockton beach with friends late last month, had sent chills through her.
Authorities concede the vast shifting sands in Stockton Bight pose a massive challenge to those seeking to keep the beach clean, with limited resources and historic dumping combining to form a major problem.
Ms Wyatt said her group, which included several children, got onto the beach at the Anna Bay end before finding a spot for the day.
‘‘Within two minutes [of arriving] my child walked up to me with a needle in her hands,’’ Ms Wyatt said.
‘‘I didn’t expect her to come back with that.’’
Ms Wyatt said she took the item from her daughter and wrapped it up for safety.
But a few moments later the group found another needle nestled in the sand.
Ms Wyatt said she feared the situation could have been much worse.
‘‘[Sophie] just picked up the syringe part but she could have stood on it,’’ she said.
Friend Zoe Hilder was with Ms Wyatt and Sophie with her children, Leon, 4, and Lochlan, 2.
She said the group visited Stockton beach regularly and were upset at the discovery.
‘‘I’m just glad we found Sophie with the syringe before any one of the children there were pricked with it,’’ Ms Hilder said.
National Parks and Wildlife Service area manager Andrew Bond said an annual clean-up day in Stockton Bight, scheduled for October27, was a vital part of improving the beach.
About 400 volunteers pulled out about 10 tonnes of waste last year, he said.
Rangers encouraged visitors to take their rubbish with them, Mr Bond said, but there was no easy solution to beach pollution.
‘‘Some of the material has been deposited a long time ago but it’s been covered up and then it is uncovered’’.
A Hunter New England Health spokeswoman said anyone exposed to a syringe should seek medical attention.
Report discarded needles
SHOCK FIND: Rebecca Wyatt, right, with daughter Sophie, 2, who presented a syringe to Rebecca and friend Zoe Hilder on a trip to Stockton beach. Picture: Darren Pateman