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?
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.
Above: Some of the litter pickers and recorders on our september beach clean. Photo Jo Kaye.
The annual Great British Beach Clean and Survey for the Lancashire area group happened on Sunday 16th September at Half Moon Bay Heysham. 46 volunteers took part and removed 22.5 kg rubbish across the whole beach. Including the 200 hundred metres designated for surveys. Our volunteers found 441 small pieces of plastic and 78 larger pieces as well as various other items. That means those pieces of plastic won’t be ingested by marine creatures or birds. Encouragingly, the beach at Half Moon Bay seemed relatively clean as it has for the last few beach cleans.
The issue of marine plastic is very much in the news at the moment and research by Thoughtworks reported in the Guardian that 62% of 2,000 people surveyed were concerned to reduce plastic packaging and use recyclable materials. The supermarket Waitrose has pledged to remove traditional plastic bags from loose fruit and vegetables from its stores by March 2019 and also the 5p bags by the same date. With public support for these initiatives growing, this is very welcome and it seems Iceland, Asda, Morrisons and the Co-op are all taking action too.
Right: Picking litter at Half Moon Bay. Photo Nicola Darbyshire.
The Marine Conservation Society has been running the annual beach cleaning events for the last 24 years and expects 2018 to beat all records with 7,391 volunteers registering at 432 coastal sites.
Last year 718 pieces of rubbish were collected per 100 metres of beach, much of the waste being plastics.
MCS has called on the government to introduce a charge on single use plastic items such as straws, cutlery and cups.
We look forward to the results of this year’s survey from MCS and thank everyone again for their efforts at Half Moon Bay. Please check our website for future beach deals dates and we hope to see you again!
A short, but instructive, video about the dangers of our addiction to plastic for National Geographic. Plastic is the major component of beach litter, it is the cause of death for large numbers of sea creatures every year, and is finding its way into our diet. Thanks to Fiona for pointing me at this!
Above – photo taken after the big beach clean on Saturday 20th September 2014.
Locals have been working hard to keep the beach tidy, and it was good to see it in a pretty clean condition when we arrived. There was much less sewage related waste than we have seen in the past, which is also good news, but expected as we have had a prolonged period of calm weather. Less good, we found our first sharp on the beach, a discarded hypodermic needle. Otherwise most of the rubbish was cigarette ends and sweety wrappers, almost certainly left by visitors to the beach.
Thanks to Sandra Moon of Morecambe and Heysham Soroptomists and Lancashire MCS for organising our local annual big beach clean at Half Moon Bay, Heysham.
Photographer Chris Jordan has published a heart-breaking series of photos of the effects of litter on baby Albatross. On the tiny Midway Atoll in the middle of the North Pacific, tens of thousands of Albatross chicks die yearly of toxicity and starvation because their parents feed them plastic, thinking it’s food.