Last Today’s Catch in New Zealand: 4th November Kiritehere Beach

After working on the BRAHSS (behavioural response of Australian whales to seismic surveys) project in Queensland Australia, I travelled back to New Zealand for 10 days to say a few goodbyes before moving back to England.
Whilst in NZ there were a few things I wanted to do, amongst these, go to Kawhia and dig a natural hot pool on the beach and see a kiwi. Given my time restraints I didn’t fancy becoming nocturnal to try and see one the wild, so I accepted I would have to see one in captivity.

Trying to find natural hot springs on Kawhia beach.

Trying to find natural hot springs on Kawhia beach.

After visiting Kawhia but not succeeding to find hot pools and going to Otorohanga kiwi house (Kiwis are awesome birds: basically just a huge furry bum with a long pointy beak!) we travelled to the small seaside town of Marokopa. It was a beautiful town next to a river with a wild black sand beach. We stayed at the Marokopa campsite in a retro caravan for 2 nights; It was a lovely clean place with amazing water tank toilets!

The next morning we travelled 5km South to Kiritehere beach, to see if we could find any waves. We walked along the beach to see if the point was working and I could not believe that there was so much plastic all along the beach.

A plastic bottle on Kiritehere beach with the point break in background.

A plastic bottle on Kiritehere beach with the point break in background.

We soon realised there was no surf, so we set out to do a Today’s Catch. After walking only 20m we had filled our bucket, but this didn’t deter us, we just piled it all up and hoped we would be able to carry it all back.

Collecting plastic on Kiritehere Beach.

Collecting plastic on Kiritehere Beach.

Our collection of plastic, including a large plastic oil drum!

Our collection of plastic, including a large plastic oil drum!

After hours and hundreds of pieces of plastic, despite there being loads still on the beach, we had collected all that we could carry so we missioned it back to the car to sort it.

Sorting the plastic on the grass by the Kiritehere stream

Sorting the plastic on the grass by the Kiritehere stream

Here is a sample of what we found:

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I have found shotgun shell wadding on almost all of my NZ beach cleans, this beach was by far the most I have collected on one beach.

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Shot gun shell wadding & cases found on Kiritehere Beach

Micro plastics (NOAA definition plastics under 5mm, however on this beach clean I used all plastics <10mm) are present on most beaches around the world, I have certainly found them on all beach cleans I have done. Probably the most common microplastic is the nurdle or plastic pellet are regularly confused as fish eggs by birds and fish, so they are consumed, which fills up stomachs so the organism usually dies of starvation. I always try to collect as many micro plastics as I can, however this is very time consuming. This beach I particular had a lot of microplastics, probably the most I have seen on one beach!

Microplastics and Nurdles found on Kiritehere Beach

Microplastics and Nurdles found on Kiritehere Beach

Kiritehere Beach was deserted with only about 10 houses surrounding it, therefore it is likely that the majority of this plastic had washed up. When I see beaches like this it really draws home the marine debris problem in our world and demonstrates the vast amounts of plastic in our oceans. I know this Today’s Catch made a difference to this beach, but it is very hard to walk away from a beach still covered in plastic, I just hope someone can go back and clean it again!

There was however one piece of plastic I didn’t try to remove:

Plastic tag still attached to a sheep a carcass.

Plastic tag still attached to a sheep a carcass.

Along with everything photographed on this page we also collected:

27 pieces of polystyrene

2 balloons

2 clothes pegs (which I took home to put on my washing line!)

1 Hair curler

2 parts of a syringes

1 Bic lighter

1 Body board leash

1 Lego piece

12 clear pieces of plastic

259 Pieces of miscellaneous plastic including:

183 small pieces of plastic (10mm-50mm)
42 medium pieces of plastic (50mm-200mm)
19 large pieces of plastic (200mm-500mm)

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Guest Entry: Dimitrios Kaloudis – Arillas Beach, Corfu, Greece

This summer was a landmark for me; for the first time in eight years I got to spend a full summer at home in Arillas, Corfu while writing my PhD thesis. It was a special summer in many ways but mostly because I got the chance to catch up with childhood friends and to indulge in my greatest passion; the sea! Spearfishing Sundays, taking pedal boats to secret beaches, day-time and night-time swims and walking the dogs on the beach at sunset were my chosen ways to clear my head after hard writing stints.

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However there was a sad twist to this beauty; the amount of plastic rubbish on the beach. From millimetre-size debris washed-up by the waves to cups of coffee, bottles, ice-cream wrappers etc. left behind by people. I don’t know if there was more than when I was a teenager or whether it was always there and it was my eyes that had been opened. Either way, on every walk along the beach I saw plastic everywhere and knowing how much marine life it kills, this left me quite frustrated. I resolved to take a plastic bag with me every time went to the beach was usually able to pick up 5-20 pieces of plastic without really looking for them.

At the same time I was very happy to find that my Marine Biology course mate Clare has been doing this for years and has created Today’s Catch blog about her beach cleans! She kindly gave me permission to write a guest entry in the hope that more people pick up this habit or at least stop leaving their rubbish on the beach. So here goes…

Epic Beach Clean – 1st of September 2014

One of the special features of Arillas is that part of the beach is quite isolated. This part is one of the oldest and most well-known nudist beaches in Greece. There is also a strong presence of tourists, who come to Arillas for “spiritual” holidays (meditation etc.) and one of the main attractions for them has always been the isolated and pristine nudist beach. While the main part of the beach is cleaned by the locals regularly, the nudist beach does not get as much attention because access is not easy and no-one is making money out of it as there are no sunbeds or businesses close by.

Towards the end of the summer I started noticing that people would just leave their umbrellas, beach mats and bags of other beach equipment on the beach to save carrying them up and down the steep walk to their apartment every day. Worse though I noticed people would leave broken umbrellas and beach mats on the beach rather than carry them away and dispose them properly. Over the whole summer this made for lots of umbrellas! Some even got creative, making little shading huts with all the rubbish they found lying around!

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On the 1st of September the first storm of autumn was forecast to hit our shores. It is normal to get a wild storm sometime in late-August, early-September for a few days almost to signify the end of high-season. Thinking about how much plastic there was on our beach from a whole summer of tourist activity and how much of it was about to be broken up and carried into the sea by this storm (esp. the umbrellas) slightly terrified me so I decided to do my best with whoever could help. My good friend Feli and her mum Sabina were up for it, so the afternoon before the storm was about to hit we armed ourselves with ropes and bin bags and headed down to the beach.

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Sabina and Feli

I thought it would be easy but when we started cleaning we quickly realised the task was much bigger than we expected. There were hundreds of pieces of polystyrene mixed with driftwood on the upper shore as well as plastic bottles, cups and bags and 40-50 old umbrellas and about the same number of old beach mats spread along about 400-500 metres of beach. There was also an inflatable canoe full of beach stuff that was badly (if at all) secured. We all rushed around, slightly overwhelmed, with the wind picking up, the waves coming in and the sun going down, trying to do as much as we could.

Trying to work as fast as possible before the waves come in.

Trying to work as fast as possible before the waves come in.

I took the task of collecting and dragging all the old umbrellas and beach mats while Feli and Sabina filled bag after bag with rubbish. After about three hours of hard work all our bags were full, we had much more stuff than we could physically carry back to civilisation and the light was failing so we decided to call it off. We secured all new/usable items as far up the cliff as possible (as well as a huge pile of old umbrellas that was just too much to carry) and dragged the rest back to the car. I believe we picked up or secured about 60-80% of what was present on the beach – certainly all the big items – but I’m sure we could have gone on for another few hours and there would still be rubbish to collect.

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There doesn't seem to be much plastic among the driftwood. Until you start looking!

There doesn’t seem to be much plastic among the driftwood. Until you start looking!

It was nearly 10pm by the time we were finished and the waves were getting bigger and bigger so we decided to celebrate with a night-time swim in the rough sea. Quite intimidating considering how rough the sea was but lots of fun! We finished the day with a meal at Porto Timoni restaurant, with awesome food, overlooking the cliffs to the sea and with the storm breaking out on cue; just as we got into the restaurant!

First pile of umbrellas and bags the next day.

First pile of umbrellas and bags the next day.

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The storm lasted a couple more days, making access to the beach difficult but we were happy to see the next day that all the items we secured were still there. I had to leave for the UK on the 5th of September but Feli, despite her bad back, ensured the last pile of umbrellas and beach mats was taken away and disposed of properly.

Morning after and the second wave of the storm is about to hit. (picture by Thalassa Restaurant)

Morning after and the second wave of the storm is about to hit. (picture by Thalassa Restaurant)

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So I have to say a huge thank you to Feli and Sabina for the huge effort when really they were supposed to be on their holidays and thank you Clare for hosting our story! This is not about the beauty of the beach, it is not about the image of our resort. It is about the inhabitants of our ocean, the whales, the dolphins, the turtles, the seabirds. It is about our grandchildren so they can inherit an ocean that is still alive.

Sunset Run on Peregian Beach >>>BALLOONS EVERYWHERE!

After a lovely run along the beach with my friend Pippa, we walked back picking up plastic. We found a mixture of things, but I could not believe how many balloons and parts of balloons there were!

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Balloon releases are still occurring despite the environmental impacts (recent news articles: BBC news, Independent news).

However there are alternative ways to celebrate, pay tribute or mark an occasion: Alternatives from the Marine Conservation Society

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Peregian beach, Sunshine Coast, Australia!

I am living in Peregian on the Sunshine Coast for the next 5 weeks assisting with research on humpback whale behaviour. As we are just doing training this week, which gives me a couple of hours in the morning to run / walk along the beautiful beach.

Yesterday as I was running I noticed loads of plastic washed up from recent storms, so walked back to collect it all.

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And I also found 2 cigarette butts. . .heaps better than the 13 I found on Noosa beach but more than I ever find in New Zealand!

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NOOSA, AUSTRALIA – butts butts butts!

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I went to check the surf early this morning, there wasn’t any! So I strolled along the beach to check if there were any little peelers by the breakwater. I thought I may as well walk along the strand line to see if there was any plastic. Noosa is surprisingly clean for such a busy beach, but there were LOADS of cigarette butts! Smoking NEEDS to be banned from beaches!

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BUT. . . . .cleaning the beach pays off, I also found this:

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18th August – Ngarunui Beach

This was an accidental Today’s Catch. I just intended to have a short stroll along the beach to get some fresh air in the evening, but I could not ignore the amount of rubbish that had washed up in the recent storms. There was definitely more I could have collected, but this is all I could fit in my hands as I stupidly forgot to bring a bag with me!

 

This is what I managed to gather!! 

 

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Ngarunui Beach

This clean was a couple of weeks ago, on a stormy Wednesday evening after work. Unfortunately it was getting dark, which hindered my collection but it is always good to collect what you see anyway!

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The majority of the plastic I found was parts of fishing rope!

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Clear plastic sports cap lids are a common find and a pretty useless item!

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Another very common item, I find these on most of my cleans at Ngarunui Beach

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2 pieces of pallet ties, yet another common item.

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Just 1 nurdle found, which is positive as I have found dozens in previous cleans. The problem with the nurdles is the likeness to fish eggs and so they often get eaten!

I also found a piece of blue plastic shaving, these were common finds at whale bay cleans. Take a look at my post from 2nd November 2012 which explains the origin of these!

17th June – Ngarunui beach

Just a short stroll along the beach on a grey day, as I had nothing better to do and needed some fresh air!
It was only a 30min walk from the Lifeguard Hut to the Bush Reserve track but with 3 sets of hands we ended up with a lot of rubbish!

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9th May 2014 – Ngarunui Beach, Raglan.

 

After a lovely long run across the fields and forest that surrounds the beach I walked back along the strandline to see what plastic and other rubbish I could find. It was a beautiful warm autumn day and the tide was mid-rising! It is about 3kms along the beach and took me about 40mins.

This is what I found:

20140510-120849.jpgIncluding:
7 plastic lid rings,
7 sports cap covers
Coke can, schwepps lid,
kiwi blue, VB bottle top
and a straw!

 

 

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Also found:

11 pieces of Pallet ties
7 Fishing floats
6 pieces Cellophane type plastic
5 Candy wrappers

9 pieces of large miscellaneous plastic
2 large plastic lids
Sunscreen lid
Plastic leaf toy
Bucket handle
Large Piece of polystyrene

 

TOTAL = 196 pieces of plastic!

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Brighton

Brighton is a seaside town on the south coast of England with a population of over 270,000 (plus thousands of foreign students and tourists that flood in during the summer!).
Since Friday 14th June the refuse collectors have been on strike, since then bins have still been put outside of houses and city bins are still being filled up.

These photos were taken on Monday 17th June, just 3days after the strike began. . . . . .

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This bin is right outside my house. The size and smell gets worse everyday!

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This is right in the centre of the popular north laine shopping area!

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Nappies spewed all over the street!

The worst thing about this mess is how close it is to the beach! There is plastic and other rubbish being blown all around the city centre, which is less than a mile to the sea. This rubbish will end up in the ocean and will end up being eaten by marine animals.
I understand that the refuse collectors need to make a point, but the people of Brighton really need to keep their rubbish at home until it can be collected, it’s just a week and it will make a huge difference to the amount of marine debris that will be created by this strike!

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