Friday, 3 July 2015
Beach Clean with Shoreham Academy
A group of students 11-14 years from Shoreham Academy undertook a beach clean on Shoreham Beach. Their teacher Mrs Firth said: “My form group wanted to give something back to the community. They have done a great job organising this themselves and it is so lovely to celebrate their integrity as young teenagers within their local community”.
A student Mia, 13, said: “Shoreham is such a nice place, you expect to see a nice beach but it is ruined by lots of litter. We just wanted to make it the nice place it is”.
The students walked down from their school and collected a lot of rubbish at Ferry Road end of the beach before walking along to meet me and Chris at Shoreham Fort. Chris talked to the students about the importance of the nature reserve and the vegetated shingle and I spoke about the damage plastic does in the oceans to wildlife – which followed on from materials he had sent to the school prior to their beach clean.
As part of the beach clean, I organised a beach clean survey of a 200 m stretch of beach collecting and recording every item they collected which totally 436 items. This included 144 small pieces of plastic, 31 pieces of fishing line, 14 pieces of nylon rope, 19 plastic drink bottles and 9 plastic bags. They also found some unusual items such as a 4 way plug socket, a nappy, several cotton buds and a shot gun cartridge.
I finished the beach clean with a debrief about the items they had collected and where they may have come from. This included some items that had washed down river, including cotton buds, that are often flushed down toilets. Some items have been washed up from the sea but many items have been left behind by beach users and if we could stop this we would greatly reduce the debris on our beaches.
8 million tons of plastic find their way into the marine environment each year. While some animals can become entangled in plastic and some mistake plastic bags for their jellyfish prey a huge problem is the many tiny pieces of plastic that can be easily swallowed by a wide range of marine animals.
We ended with a look at some of the natural items that are washed up onto the beach, (from shark and ray egg cases to seashells and cuttlefish bone) and what they can tell us about the amazing animals that live off our coast.