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First Birds of Poole Harbour Beach Clean Success!

Why host a beach clean?

Following the coverage of the marine litter crisis by Blue Planet 2, awareness of the plastic litter issue has exploded, and we are only just realising the magnitude of the clean up required to deal with it. Litter has found its way throughout our oceans, from the snow-capped poles to uninhabited tropical islands. Poole Harbour is no exception. Plastic litter from the 1970s has been found in near-perfect condition in the dunes at Studland and on the beach at Brownsea Island and plastic microfibres from clothing has been found in sediments from Poole Park lagoon and Seymers lagoon.

How does litter affect birds?

Plastic litter can affect all life on earth and birds are no exception. Seabirds are particularly vulnerable as they mistake floating plastic for food. Sadly, many seabirds are unable to regurgitate these plastic pieces and will die from starvation. Up to 60% of all seabird species studied have had plastic in their gut. Scaled up with scientific modelling, that equates to 90% of all seabirds having eaten plastic at some point in their lives. By 2050, that figure is expected to rise to 99%. Nearly 200 pieces of plastic have been recovered from a single seabird’s stomach. These plastic pieces include things we would all see at home; bottle caps, balloon fragments and cigarette lighters. Plastic has comprised up to 8% of one seabird’s bodyweight. That’s the equivalent of 5kg of plastic in the digestive system of a 62kg person. By running litter picks and beach cleans, we remove these plastic pieces from the environment and prevent them from harming seabirds and wildlife.

Baiter Beach Clean

The day of the beach clean was exceptionally bright and sunny with a crisp snap of autumn in the air. Volunteers arrived at 2.30pm and mustered on the beachfront for a quick briefing. At first glance there was little litter to speak of, aside from small sweets packaging or cigarette butts. Our volunteers spread out across a wide area to look for those hotspots that rubbish would accumulate; the skate park, a patch by the fishing boats and a tree lined ditch proved veritable sources. We focussed on plastic litter and beer and soft drinks cans with a high representation of the usual suspects; drinks bottles and food packaging.

Volunteers collected over 25 bags of litter from Baiter beachfront and park. Notable trash included old disposable barbecues and an abandoned plastic toy digger rehomed by one of our younger volunteers. We posed for a celebratory group photo before making our way to our visitor centre on the Quay for refreshments as a thank you for our volunteers’ hard work. All rubbish collected was taken by the Lush Green Hub which will recycle everything; not even a bottle lid will make it to landfill. Litter pickers, gloves, bags and bag hoops were kindly loaned to us by Borough of Poole council.

 

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