Thanks to everybody who came along on the 23rd September for the Beach Clean at Half Moon Bay, part of the National MCS Great British Beach Clean 2023. In common with recent events, both survey areas on the beach were exceptionally clean.
Above: Beach clean volunteers from the Half Moon Bay 2 survey area, September 2023.
We collected the least amount of litter that we’ve found on recent cleans. Even the number of plastic fragments was down from a few hundred (usually) to 51. However, this may rise when Becca’s data is added from HMB 2. The overall weight from the surveyed areas was 1.62 kg. A group also cleaned beyond the survey areas and they collected a further 3kg, and many bottles from the seating area on the fore-shore.
Above: Some of the team from Half Moon Bay survey area 1.
Our next beach clean date will be early December (not yet agreed)
Two of our quarterly beach cleans/surveys took place on April 24th and June 15th with 12 volunteers each, so thank you again to those who took part. The June one was particularly enjoyable with the warm, late sun. A great way to spend an evening.
As we have found in beach cleans over the last few years, Half Moon Bay continues to be cleaner than in the past. The litter we find is mainly in the form of small, plastic pieces which often is found in the strand line seaweed. We don’t take away heavy bags filled with rubbish but, we are taking away the dangerous fragments of plastic which can be so toxic to marine life. Define worth the effort!
You can view our survey data on the website which includes pie charts so you can see the results of our survey data. They provide a colourful reference and it’s a visual way to see the percentages of litter collected.
The next beach clean at Half Moon Bay will be the annual national Great British Beach Clean which takes place between the 16th and the 26th September 2022.
We will meet on Saturday 24th September at 3:00 pm. Please register on the National MCS website in the usual way.
Many thanks to all of you who took part in our beach clean on December 12th. On each side of the beach we took 3.5 kg rubbish, although the weight isn’t always the important part. We removed over 300 pieces of plastic of various sizes. This is so important for the protection of marine life and birds. Other items included 55 cotton bud sticks and several other sanitary items including a PPE mask. This is more than usual and may have something to do with the recent storms. I will put the full surveys on the MCS database.
Whatever we remove helps protect wildlife and make the beaches more pleasant to use, so thanks again and hope to see you on another beach clean.
A big thanks to everyone who turned out on Sunday for the MCS Great British Beach Clean at Half Moon Bay, Heysham. Despite the downpour just before the event we had a good turn out – and the weather turned warm and sunny! Again the beach was pretty clean, allowing us to clean the entire length of the beach down to the high tide mark, collecting only 3.2kg of litter. This did, however, included some sanitary waste – wet-wipes, panty liners, ear cleaners and dog poo, so there is still room for improvement! National MCS will collect all of the data and publish it on their website.
Our next beach clean will be in early December, but we have a short set of winter talks planned starting before then, in November. If you would like to keep up to date with activities, please sign up for our Newsletter:
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Many thanks to everyone who turned up on this rainy Sunday morning to clean the beach at Half Moon Bay. It was certainly not a promising start and we were all wet before the beach clean began. However, the rain eventually stopped and 37 volunteers cleaned the beach and carried out a survey of the litter we collected.
In total we collected just under 14kg of which there was a high percentage of small plastic pieces, bits of glass (still sharp) and some bagged dog poo! Also a variety of other items including fishing line, rope and food packaging.
The autumn magazine from MCS has an article about 25 years of beach cleaning and surveying. It seems that marine litter is still going up and we know that small, broken down bits of plastic are highly toxic to marine life as they can be ingested and travel up the food chain.
Some of our recent beach cleans at Half Moon Bay have yielded low weights and volumes of collected litter. However, if we are removing these dangerous pieces of plastic then we must be protecting some of our local marine life and the creatures further up the food chain, including ourselves!
So, please keep joining us on our beach cleans and surveys. The next one is Sunday 1st December at 10:00 am.
Nurdles are pre-production plastic pellets (about the size of a lentil) and of many different colours. These are shipped around the world by the plastics industry and turned into plastic products. Unfortunately these, along with our general plastic waste, are often lost or dumped at sea, and being less dense than water they get washed up on our beaches. Due of their low density they tend to work their way to the surface of the sand, and are caught by the wind and blown anywhere they can lodge anbove the high tide point, such as above a storm tide shingle ridge, or the vegetation behind the beach.
The scale of the pollution at The Cove, Silverdale is so great that it’s looking likely that that nothing can be done. Indeed the problem has been reported all over the world, with logging programs in the US and Scotland:
Fidra – tackling nurdle pollution at source the ‘Great Nurdle Hunt’ was set up in 2014 to track pellet pollution around the local beaches of the Firth of Forth, but has since spread to become a global citizen science project.
As a means of measuring how many are involved I took a sample with a garden auger took it home and 3 hrs of washing the woody bits out resulted in the photo below!
A Morecambe Bay survey would give an indication of how common that situation is locally – so if you have a few hours to spare after your walk on the beach, why not take a sample, as I have done above, and report your findings back?
During our beach clean on Sunday (22nd September) litterpickers found a number of rather strange cord-like objects in the strand line. The objects were generally translucent white, and resembled silicone rubber beading, of the type you might use to seal around the bath or kitchen sink. I brought a sample back home for closer investigation; it was 2.5mm in diameter, and held between tweezers, could be readily stretched by 20 of its resting length (a test section extended readily from 10 to 12cm), and recover apparently undamaged – so, rubber?
The mystery was quickly solved under the microscope, where the cellular structure of the material was evident. The samples were of Chorda filum (I call it sea-whip when I see it diving – for obvious reasons, see the photo below- but I think its common name is actually ‘sea lace’). I couldn’t find any reports of the histology of Chorda filum on the web, so I present a quick report into what might be the rubberiest plant on the planet below the photo!
Histology of Chorda filum
Generally seaweeds have very simple internal structures. Microscopy might reveal a gelatinous/slimy outer layer secreted by an organised skin or dermis, but there is rarely much internal structure to speak of. Seaweeds don’t need to transport water and salts from roots to leaves, as they are continually bathed in seawater, they can rely on diffusion for most transport requirements, so generally they lack the complex vasculature we see in higher plants.
Chorda filum, however, shows a very clever internal architecture; a central lumen stretches up the centre of the entire filament that constitutes the plant’s body. The lumen is surrounded by four or five layers of large box-like cells. These cells are at an angle to the axis of the filament – so they coil like a spring down the plant. This almost certainly contributes to the plants amazing elasticity, though I would not be surprised if there were not further mechanisms at the molecular level.
The box-like cells showed no internal structure in the sample I had from the strand line, but in places there was evidence of a further layer of cone-like cells attached by their apex to the outside of the tube of box-cells. These cells had clear chloroplasts in the wider end, suggesting that photosynthetic activity had been an important role in these cells while the plant was alive. I confess that I don’t understand why these cells are only attached at their apices, but this again might be to allow movement required as the plant is stretched and relaxes as each wave passes over it.
In conclusion; many seaweeds live in extreme environments. Chorda filum seems to have evolved a particularly interesting way of coping with the mechanical stresses of wave motion, and this may be one of the factors that permit it to colonise seabeds that lack good points of anchorage.
Regular beach cleaners with our local group at Half Moon Bay, Heysham will know that we always take a survey of the litter collected and this information is put into a database held by MCS. We thought it would be interesting for people to see the attached graphs which show some of the changes in litter at HMB since 1998.
Although this data may not be very exact it does show some encouraging changes for example items described under “sanitary” have reduced. Perhaps the “don’t flush” campaigns are working?
Plastic bag numbers have come down, though the amount of plastic in general has increased although oddly, glass has increased from 72% to 76% of the total rubbish on the beach.
The local MCS group doubled the survey area at HMB in April 2018 but the amount of litter collected has not increased which is very encouraging. Although sometimes our volunteers are a bit disappointed that there isn’t as much to do!
MCS value the data we submit and believe it to be important for their monitoring purposes. They have asked us to continue to beach clean and survey at HMB.
So, we still need your support and really appreciate everyone giving their time and efforts. Of course you can beach clean/litter pick anytime, anywhere so why not carry out a 2 minute litter pick nearer home?
A big thank you to everyone who turned out for the beach clean at Half Moon bay on the 5th June – a decidedly un-summery evening. The photo is by Ian Croucher, having his first taste of a beach clean, and looking to set up or join similar events with colleagues from work on the railways, so we wish him all the best!
Again the beach was relatively clean – which is good news, though we are seeing more wet-wipes than has been the case in the past. Again a quick reminder to anyone who has not got the message – don’t flush wet wipes. Despite what it says on the packet, they don’t belong down the loo.