The Marine Conservation Society Big Beachwatch Weekend is on the third weekend in September every year. All round the coast of the UK groups of volunteers were surveying 100m of their beach and cleaning up marine litter. The results of such a massive survey give a clear snapshot of the amount and types of litter washing up on our shores.
|The MCS Beachwatch team at Dingieshowe.|
This year is the 20th MCS Beachwatch Weekend and it coincides with the Ocean Conservancy global clean up. Volunteers all over the world have been participating in an International Coastal Cleanup and by doing so have been part of the world's largest volunteer effort for our ocean.
|The Eday Beachwatch Team at London Bay.|
In Orkney the Eday Scarf's got together at London Bay, coordinated by Jenny Campbell the Eday Ranger, and on the Mainland we met at Dingieshowe to do our survey and clean. Dingieshowe has been surveyed for four years so repeating the survey year after year provides useful information about changes in the way litter is deposited on the shore and the types of litter that end up here. The litter on 100 metres of beach is carefully counted and recorded.
This year, like last year, the survey area - the most easily accessed part of the beach - was remarkably clean of litter. Prior to this it has been full of litter and quite a job to record. This might have something to do with the weather, or the amount of visitors to the beach - we hope it is because people have been picking up their pieces! We know of at least one enthusiastic local litter picker and the beach was cleaned by St Andrews School at Bag the Bruck time.
After the survey we got on with a general beach clean. The north end of the beach is an area that catches a lot of small pieces of plastic. These are generally fragments that get lodged between the cobbles and get ground into smaller bits and buried into the dunes. There were a few net monsters too - great clumps of net frgments that have found each other in the sea and have become a deadly tangled mess of knitted plastic. These take a lot of determined dragging to get them off the beach and to the pick up point.
After a couple of hours we had made a satisfying pile of bruck.
You don't need to wait until the next big event to clean a bit of shore, a ditch or water course - we can all clean up year round on a small scale as we walk, or when we are swimming, snorkelling, diving or kayaking, by picking up three for the sea.
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