Sea clean-up mission

Mark Clarke (Damjan Janevski). 235821_01

Goya Dmytryshchak

He’s starred alongside Meryl Streep and played with Jimmy Barnes but for the past eight years, Mark Clarke has been cleaning up the Williamstown beach.

The Wyndham Vale resident has retired after about 20 years as a senior sheriff’s officer with the Department of Justice.

He had to leave full-time acting when he joined law enforcement but was able to remain a musician as that was considered a “hobby”.

You may have seen him acting as a Northern Territory police officer in Evil Angels, alongside Meryl Streep and Sam Neill.

Today, instead of being the toast of Hollywood, Mr Clarke is most likely scuba diving off Williamstown plucking champagne bottles, lead sinkers and other debris from the ocean floor.

“I’ve been diving down at Williamstown Beach for about 23 years now,” Mr Clarke said.

“I met [a friend] Edward Nuri probably eight or nine years ago … and we just started collecting rubbish that was out in the bay.

“Unfortunately, people have just discarded their rubbish and I mean everything you can actually think off.

“There’s been a number of times we’ve gone out with 20 kilo hessian bags and we’ve come back with the bags full of bottles, and Fisheries (Authority) have grabbed us as we’ve come out of the water and said, ‘Hey, what’s in the bags’, thinking that it’s full of abalone.

“I would just jokingly turn to them and say to them, ‘Yeah, it’s full of crayfish’.”

Mr Clarke said his most unforgettable moment was coming face-to-face with a pod of dolphins.

“These five dolphins came out of nowhere and swam straight up to me and one of them looked directly in my eyes and then it smiled at me and it laughed and then it swam away,” he said.

“That, in itself, just shows you how clean the environment is down there, to have dolphins coming that close to shore is really amazing.

“It was wonderful.”