The importance of beach cleans…


11th August 2016

Blog post by Host Oleta Forde

As a marine enthusiast I love going to the beach, and living in Plymouth means I am minutes away from some beautiful bays and beaches. These empty in the cold parts of the year, with only the brave left to face the cold sea or walk their dogs along the coast. But when the sun is shining, everyone heads to the beach to go swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, rockpooling or even to have picnics and barbeques. This is fantastic! The best way to see marine life is to head out into the wild. Some of our beautiful beaches can have hundreds of visitors over the day but not everyone is careful to look after the place.

Growing up one of my parents many rules was “always leave it as you would want to find it”, so when we went to a café we were sure to clear the table; when we went for picnics in the park, we would take our rubbish to the bin. So why do we leave it outside when we go to the beach? I love to have beach barbeques and always make sure I take rubbish bags with me to clear up and make it seem like we were never there. But unfortunately not everyone does the same.

Here in the South West, we are blessed with picture perfect beaches, but they can be ruined by broken bottles and other rubbish. Not only does it spoil the view, it can be dangerous for people running around barefoot. And this same litter is a huge threat to our marine life. If litter gets into the sea it can be stuck there for hundreds of years, harming animals and even killing our wonderful local wildlife.

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A turtle’s favourite food is jellyfish, but sometimes they eat carrier bags or clear plastic in the ocean because they look so similar! More and more we’re finding turtles that have starved with stomachs full of plastic.

Tiger Sharks will eat anything and everything they find, so they are often found with lots of rubbish in their stomachs. We’ve found shoes, electronics, plastic balls, car number plates and even a whole chicken coop with chickens still inside! This is obviously not what a Tiger Shark should be eating, and many die when they throw up with all that junk in their stomachs.

Last week Sarah (another host at the Aquarium) and I headed out in our Nissan Leaf Electric Car to Mount Batten Bay for a spot of rockpooling, but the weather turned sour. So instead we grabbed a couple of bin bags and collected litter from a section of the beach. In only one hour we filled two huge bin bags! We were both surprised at how much rubbish we collected, as the beach looked clean when we arrived. We packed our bags into our electric car (ready to be binned once we returned to the Aquarium) and we were happy to leave knowing the beach looked better than when we arrived. The next people to explore the beach would be able to enjoy their time with a little less rubbish in their way.

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At the Aquarium we can only do so much, we need you all to become budding marine conservationists, helping us to look after our marine habitats. Let’s spread the message that our beaches need cleaning.

So what can we do to restore our beaches to their natural beauty?

  • We need to fall in love again with the nature we have on our doorstep. We should be proud of the state of our beaches. People come from all over the world to spend time in the South West.
  • Leave only your footprints in the sand. If you have food, take a rubbish bag with you and tidy up before you go.
  • If the bin is full and overflowing. Let the council know, so they can empty the bins more often.
  • If there is no bin, take the rubbish home with you.
  • Anytime you are on the beach clear up any rubbish you see, even if it’s not your mess.
  • Do be careful. You can find a lot of nasty rubbish. Be prepared, wear sturdy shoes and gloves.
  • Join the National Marine Aquarium on our next beach clean, we’ll work together to make our beaches clean again.

Why not join us on our Fun at the Beach this month where we’ll be having fun, doing beach cleans and a spot of rockpooling as well!

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