Note to dog owners: dog poo is biodegradable, plastic bags are not!

Beautiful view of Whitesands Bay, Scotland ruined by plastic dog poo bags!

I came across this beautiful view half way through a 10km run today, however it was ruined by four plastic dog poo bags. I do not understand this. If you have a dog and you want to take it for a walk in a beautiful place with no bins, then please carry the poo bag to the nearest bin, or flick it into a bush and it will biodegrade within a year. By wrapping a poo in plastic, the time it takes to biodegrade is increased by hundreds of years. If carrying a bag of poo is too embarrassing for a dog owner, they should not own a dog, or should walk the dog in a city park with bins.

I have seen plastic bags of dog poo in the British countryside all across the UK. Dog owners please prioritise the environment over your own image, and stop littering!

Nurdle Overload

Beautiful Whitsands Bay is in the South East of Cornwall, since it is very close to Plymouth, I visit regularly. I often find plastic, and rubbish on the beach here, but I have never seen it like this before.

 

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Jen and Hannah walking near Whitsands bay in Cornwall, UK

When Jen and I headed to the beach on Sunday 19th February, originally to collect sea glass for making jewellery, we were amazed to see it completely covered in plastic pellets (or Nurdles as they are often called) and other small pieces of plastic. Every strand line on the beach was littered with black and grey plastic pellets; at first they were disguised, and looked like small rocks, but with closer inspection it was clear that the beach was covered in Nurdles.

 

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Rock pools full of Nurdles!

The sheer amount of these tiny round pellets was overwhelming, there was no way two people could collect all of these, and it would be nearly impossible without also collecting tonnes of stones and sand.

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A bag full of Nurdles and micro plastics, but there were still thousands on the beach!

Soon we started filling our bags (originally designed to be filled with sea glass!), but despite both collecting all we could, we only removed about 5% of what was on the beach.

 

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The large, small and pellet plastics collected at Whitsands Bay on 19/02/2017

 

Since the Great Nurdle Hunt last weekend, the presence of these plastic pellets on UK beaches has received large amounts of media attention. Seeing a beach completely covered in micro plastics makes me feel sick and completely overwhelmed; imagine, if this many are present on one little beach in Cornwall, how much must be floating around our oceans.

These plastic pellets are often confused with fish eggs, and are consumed by other fish,  once in the stomach they will make their way up the food chain. Additionally, plastic acts as a sponge to chemicals, and thus takes these chemicals on the journey up the food chain, eventually these plastics and chemicals accumulate in large fish and marine mammals!

The solution to this problem is to tackle the source, stop plastic getting into the environment and for humans to reduce our plastic consumption. Plastic should be treated as a precious, finite resource, not disposable and cheap!

 

 

Two firsts for Today’s Catch!

In the FOUR, yes four years I have been cleaning beaches around the world and writing this blog I have not experienced these events before….

The first, first is a very good first….my first ever beach clean after 10pm! Luckily I live in Scotland and I can run along the beach late in the evening and it is still light!

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East Sands, St Andrews at sunset

My second first, unfortunately is a very bad first: My first ever Condom….urgh!

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Urgh! The first condom to ever be found on today’s Catch! 

Luckily I had already found a plastic bag so I could pick it up without touching it!

 

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On my very short beach run I also collected 4 pieces of plastic, a balloon and string and a Tesco’s plastic bag!

 

 

 

 

A thank you from the North Sea

There was so much plastic on East Sands beach today I had to stop my run and collect it! Luckily the sea had washed up a large fishing tub that I could use.

 

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A tub full of plastic collected on just a small part of East Sands beach

 

When the rain started getting harder and the tub was almost too heavy to drag, I reached down to collect one last crisp packet….and underneath the bag was this:

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A sea glass bottle stopper! The first one I have ever found! I think it was the North Sea’s way of saying thank you!

 

Not such a ‘HAPPY MEAL’!!!

Selfish, selfish humans

Its been a while since I’ve posted on here; of cause I have been collecting rubbish every time I walk to the beach,but as I am in the middle of a masters degree, I have been very busy.

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Rubbish collected on East Sands beach a few weeks ago

 

Today, after a long day of analysing humpback whale song (and believe me it doesn’t always sound like it does on the relaxation CDs) I went for a long run. Living in St. Andrews is fantastic, not only does the beautiful town have everything you may need, but after a short 10 minute run and you can get to a beautiful deserted beach.

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Over looking St Andrews from the coastal path

It’s been a while since I ran the coast path as it has been so muddy recently, but after a few days of sunshine it was dry. When I arrived at the deserted beach, instead of the happiness I usually feel from seeing this lovely place, I was greeted with crisp packets, biscuit wrappers and fizzy drinks bottles! This is a beach 15min walk from the nearest road and people have the disrespect to leave their picnic wrappers like that!

 

Todays catch

In total there were:

5 crisp packets
Jammie dodgers packet
a packet from Tiramisu bars…all with individual wrappers!
Haribo marshmallows bag
A BARR bubblegum drinks bottle
A Rockstar energy drinks can
But luckily they had left their costcutter plastic bag for me to collect it all in!

This proves that a lot of our plastic waste is caused by junk food, there would not be a problem is they had left a apple core and a banana skin!

Sights like I saw today make me so disappointed in the human race, we live on such an amazing planet, we are so fortunate to be here, and we can’t even take a few measly crisp packets to the nearest bin!

 

To Fin or not to Fin

Brittany Ferries Wildlife Officer Programme

Bonjour and welcome to our blog from a crazy week on the Cap Finistere. As the schools are starting to break up for summer our ship has been getting busier and livelier with families going on their summer holidays. This week our presentations were full up and our children’s craft sessions have been fun and messy! The seas were very flat and the cetaceans were in full view, we managed to spot 7 different cetacean species and 2 fish species along with several seabirds.

Black headed gul spotted on Thursday. Black headed gull spotted on Thursday

It started with glassy waters on Wednesday. In the channel we came across a huge group of diving gannets and managed to spot a few dolphins amongst the feeding frenzy. The calm seas continued into the Bay of Biscay on Thursday morning and just 20 minutes into the deck watch we had a shark cruise past the ship. We then…

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The Northern Shelf: Our New Number One

Brittany Ferries Wildlife Officer Programme

Hello again readers!

This week I (Clare) was joined by Jenna. Jenna is spending a month on the Cap Finistere with us to train how to become a Wildlife Officer and witness some of the fantastic cetaceans we encounter on our journeys to and from Spain. The Bay of Biscay has been pretty quiet this week with just a few sightings each day, but each one has been pretty spectacular.

Three playful common dolphins Three playful common dolphins

Thursday morning started with a bang (or should I say a blow!), as we stepped out on deck at 5.45am we were greeted with the sight of a fin whale blow! It was our first fin whale sighting for a couple of weeks and Jenna’s first ever baleen whale sighting! Just 10 minutes later we had a large pod of common dolphins leaping towards the ship. With two fantastic sightings before 6am we were very excited…

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Peaceful waters and playful dolphins.

This is what I got up to last week!

Brittany Ferries Wildlife Officer Programme

Tranquil Thursdays really did live up to its name this week with beautifully calm seas throughout the Bay of Biscay all day. The flat ocean made for perfect dolphin spotting with over 160 Common dolphins seen leaping in the bay from 20 different sightings. In the afternoon we were joined on board by the Taylor family, who last week on their southbound crossing had kept us company on deck throughout treacherous weather, but this time they were well rewarded by continuous sightings in the calm seas until the sunset. We were also joined once again by Gavin (who we had met in our first week) and he also entertained us up on deck with stories from his bird watching trip in Spain.

The Taylor family and Gavin helping us spot dolphins. The Taylor family and Gavin helping us spot dolphins.

The Taylor family joined us again bright and early on Friday morning to watch the beautiful sunrise in the…

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Whitsands Bay – Cornwall, UK

Walking down the cliff to Whitsands bay

Whitsands bay is in south east Cornwall, just over the Tamar river from Plymouth. A beautiful sandy beach sits beneath huge cliffs and the beach is only accessible at low tide, because of this any plastic left on the beach will be swept away by the high water. After spending the weekend at the bay, I went for a short walk with my dog on Monday evening. I was so disgusted by the amount of plastic washed up on the beach that I had to run back up the cliff to get a few bin bags and another pair of hands!

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The plastic had all been washed up to the base of the cliffs on the last spring tide.

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A few of the branded products we found.

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We managed to collect 3 full bin bags in 30 minutes!

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The hardest part was carrying all the bags up the cliffs, but we had help from Elmo the dog….

It is very satisfying to leave a beach having cleared so much rubbish and it makes it even more worthwhile when you can also collect some sea gems!

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Guest Entry: Petite Anse, Seychelles. Written by Jo Eames

I met Clare 3 years ago; we were working together on a Humpback whale survey project off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Living across the globe from each other, but both working in the marine environment field, we have remained friends. I have been following her blog of beach cleans and now as I work on the beach I decided it was time to write a guest entry.

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I moved to the Seychelles in March this year and joined the WiseOceans team as a Marine Educator at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles. Seychelles is a collection of granitic and coralline islands in the Indian Ocean just below the equator. In fact 99.9% of the exclusive economic zone of the Seychelles is water. The largest island, and the one on which I am located, is Mahe; with a surface area of 150km² and home to only 90,000 people. Petite Anse is located in south-west Mahe, and although it is mostly occupied by resort guests, as with all beaches in Seychelles it remains public. The beach is approximately 400m in length, not particularly wide and backed by shrubs and trees.

When the winds blow from the south-east this bay is sheltered, calm and idyllic. The white sand looks untouched, with little to no seaweed, shells or corals. During the north-west season, which is now upon us, we see some changes occur on the beach. One of the most noticeable is the large amount of rubbish washing up amongst the seaweed.

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In our role as WiseOceans Marine Educators, myself and colleague Charlotte conduct a daily beach walk – a great way to start the day! We are on the lookout for any variations to the beach or signs of nesting turtles, and of course we always take a bag and pick up any litter we find. During the south-east season our haul is minimal, maybe a few bottle tops and cigarette butts. But with the change in winds our daily treasure hunts have increased in scale, with some days filling 5 bags with washed up litter! Items have included but not limited to:image005

  • Flip-flops
  • Micro plastics
  • Polystyrene
  • Cigarette butts
  • Plastic drink bottles
  • Drink cans
  • Scraps of fabric
  • Glass bottles
  • Light bulbs
  • Plastic toys – my favourite being the army of soldiers

 

Examining the items that are washed up we could conclude the majority of it is thrown overboard or lost from leisure boats. Arriving directly from the open ocean, some items have been floating around for a considerable time and come ashore covered in barnacles, crabs and algae.

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Keeping our beach clean is a team effort and luckily we are supported by the resort staff who all lend a helping hand. For those new to the beach witnessing this change has been an eye opener to the issues of marine litter. I think they are especially surprised at the time it takes for some items to biodegrade and the sheer quantity of it (up to 20 single flip-flops in one trip). It’s also interesting for them to see us scrambling in the sand to collect all the micro plastics, as even the smallest pieces can have a negative impact on marine wildlife.

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