It's a weekend morning and a group of about 50 people are out for a gentle morning snorkel in Sydney's world-famous harbour.

It might be a typical sight - but this group aren't your regular beachgoers, they are "strawklers", part of a popular new conservation effort involving the collection of plastic waste, including straws, bags and discarded fishing lines, from the ocean floor.

Operation Straw, as it is known, was founded by Sydney resident Harriet Spark at the end of 2017.

Spark was inspired to begin the project, which aims to eliminate plastic straws from the ocean around Sydney, when she noticed hundreds of the items in and around Manly Cove.

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A video she filmed of an octopus clutching at straws only encouraged her efforts and soon the popularity of strawkling surged.

"I think it's because it's such a feel good activity to be able to get in and do something about the problems facing the world," she said.

"There's so much doom and gloom out there, for good reason, but when a community can come together and actually take action, it's really powerful."

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean around the world every year, impacting marine wildlife and clogging waterways.

Spark said Australians use about ten million straws a day, and people are still genuinely shocked to discover how many plastic bags, straws, bottles and take away coffee cups actually end up in the ocean.

In the summer of 2018, the strawklers collected over 2,500 straws from Manly Cove. But things seem to be getting better.

Last Saturday, the group of stawklers collected a couple of hundred straws, plastic bags, fishing lines, glass bottles and even a Mexican sombrero.

All items will be counted and logged into the Australian Marine Debris Database, they said.

"It shows you can make a difference by implementing change," said one of Spark's regular strawkling partners, high school teacher Phill Nicotra.

Their community work is also not limited to collecting the rubbish after it's been tossed out - they're trying to head it off at source

Spark and the strawkling volunteers, in collaboration with other organisations, persuaded more than 40 businesses in the local Manly area to stop using plastic straws.

Hugos Manly Restaurant was one of the first to eliminate single-use plastic from its establishment.

It said it was proud to be linked with Operation Straw.

"We believe in living in harmony with the environment," said Ryan Carmo, manager at Hugos Manly.