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Marine Life & Conservation

Deborah Meaden calls out washing machine manufacturers for lack of action on plastic pollution

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Deborah Meaden is joining forces with the Marine Conservation Society on its Stop Ocean Threads campaign which is calling for all washing machines to have microfibre filters fitted, by law, by 2024. The campaign is now turning its attention to washing machine manufacturers, as they have made little progress in taking steps to reduce microfibre pollution.

Fabrics such as polyester, nylon and acrylic are created using plastic microfibres. For every load of laundry washed, as many as 700,000 microfibres can flow into our water systems and across the UK at least 9.4 trillion fibres could be released into the environment in one week alone. These fibres are heading for our seas, and our plates! 63% of shrimp in the North Sea have been found to contain synthetic fibres. Microfibres have even been found in the remote reaches of the Arctic Ocean, miles from the nearest washing machine. Scientists found an average of 40 microplastic particles per cubic metre of water, 92% of which were microfibres.

Since the campaign launch, the charity has garnered public support for fitting filters into washing machines to reduce microfibre pollution. So far, more than 30,000 people have shown their support for legislation which would require washing machines to be fitted with microfibre filters by 2024.

Hundreds of supporters joined the charity’s call on Twitter for manufacturers to take action late last year, targeting Miele, Beko, Hoover, Bosch, Samsung and Whirlpool. However, there was no response from the manufacturers. There is no need to wait for legislation to be put in place before making sustainable strides, and so the Marine Conservation Society is working alongside Ocean Ambassador and Dragon, Deborah Meaden, to make a business case for fitting filters in washing machines as soon as possible.

Deborah Meaden said: “I was shocked when the Marine Conservation Society told me that washing machine manufacturers still don’t fit microfibre filters to their machines. These filters would stop millions of tiny pieces of plastic from our synthetic clothes escaping into waste water systems and ultimately the ocean. I’m not being dramatic when I say these filters need to be fitted right now. If the next generation of machines don’t have them, the plastic soup in our oceans is just going to get thicker.”

Consumers are clearly willing to pay extra for a washing machine with environmentally-friendly credentials. In a survey conducted by YouGov last year, 56% of adults said they would be willing to pay an additional £5 or more for a washing machine that included a microfibre filter compared to one that didn’t, a quarter (26%) said they would be willing to pay an additional £50.

Plastic pollution in the UK is an issue of concern for many consumers. 58% of respondents said they were very or extremely concerned about the issue in a recent survey. By introducing microfibre filters into all new washing machines as soon as possible, manufacturers will be able to lead the charge in stemming the tide of microfibres entering the ocean every day and advertise their eco-credentials at the same time.

Deborah continues: “Who’s going to be the first manufacturer to stick their head above the parapet and massively improve their eco-credentials? Think of the business kudos and potential increase in sales if your machine is the first to market that will reduce plastic pollution right at source. For me it’s a simple business decision to make and you must make it now.”

For more information about the Marine Conservation Society’s Stop Ocean Threads campaign, please visit the charity’s website here.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Marine Life & Conservation

Meet Parpal Dumplin – Norfolk’s very own purple sea sponge named by local child

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Ten years ago, in 2011, a new sponge species was identified in the North Norfolk chalk beds by Seasearch volunteer divers. In January 2021, the Marine Conservation Society’s Agents of Change project invited children in the Norfolk area to name the purple sponge.

Following lockdown, the judges thought that this would be an ideal time for school children to bond, while using their creativity – with no constraints. From home schooling children to entire classes, the panel of expert judges received a fantastic response with suggestions including Norfolk Purplish Plum and Purple Stone Sticker. All entries were carefully considered by a panel of experts, looking at the creativity, suitability and usability of each name.

It was unanimously agreed that the sponge should be named Parpal Dumplin. The winning name was suggested by nine-year-old Sylvie from Langham Village School, “because the sponge is purple and it looks like a dumpling”. The panel particularly liked that the spelling gives the sponge a strong connection to Norfolk.

The panel of experts deciding on the name included: Catherine Leigh, Education Adviser at Norfolk Coast Partnership, Annabel Hill, Senior Education Officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Jenny Lumb, Teacher at The Coastal Federation, Nick Acheson, President at Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society and Claire Goodwin, Research Scientist at Huntsman Marine Science Centre and internationally renowned sponge specialist. At the meeting, the panel was supported by Seasearch East Coordinator, Dawn Watson, who recognised this sponge as special over a decade ago.

Claire Goodwin, internationally renowned sponge specialist, says: “Dawn and Rob invited me to join a Seasearch survey of the east coast, including the Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds. Dawn introduced me to a purple sponge she had noticed on the chalk reefs. We took samples, and believe it to be a species new to science, in a sub-genus of sponges known as Hymedesmia (Stylopus).”

We need to look at specimens deposited in museums to understand how many different Hymedesmia (Stylopus) species exist in the UK and how they differ from this new species. The Agents of Change naming project has given the sponge a common name that we can use until it has a scientific one.  I loved seeing all the creative suggestions.

Sponges help to keep seawater clean by filter feeding, consuming tiny particles of food that float by. There are over 11,000 different species globally and our purple one is ‘encrusting’, meaning it adopts the shape of whatever it covers. It lives in Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds Marine Conservation Zone, a precious area of local seabed that needs to be taken care of.

Jenny Lumb, Teacher at The Coastal Federation, said: “Naming the purple sponge has been a fun way for children to find out about the fascinating life hidden beneath the waves. It’s amazing to be given the chance to name a species that scientists and divers will use for years to come! The children are so fortunate to have the MCZ on their doorstep. They had a great time on the beach discovering some of the life there, collecting litter and finding out about this special coastal area. I am sure the children will continue to enjoy and care for the coastal environment into the future.”

Catherine Leigh, Education Adviser from the Norfolk Coast Partnership said: “It was a pleasure to help decide on the sponge’s name from so many fantastic suggestions submitted and I hope it will inspire people to find out more about all the incredible inhabitants of this Marine Conservation Zone on our Norfolk coastline.”

Hilary Cox, Agents of Change Norfolk Coordinator, said: “Parpal Dumplin is a great choice by the decision panel of specialists:  a local Norfolk name for this newly found species in North Norfolk’s Marine Conservation Zone.”

Annabel Hill, Senior Education and Engagement Officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust said: “Wonderful to be involved in the process of naming a new species of sponge, found in Norfolk from a range of fantastic creative names suggested by local school children”.

You can find out more about the purple sponge, and the search for its name, by watching this animation: The seabed is a fun place to be! http://youtu.be/A_LUb8OSfn0

For more information on the work of the Marine Conservation Society visit their website by clicking here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Save the Sharks, Save the Planet (Watch Video)

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In 2020 Oyster Diving helped to train Toby Monteiro-Hourigan to become one of the youngest (12 years old) Master Scuba Divers ever. You can read his story here.

Toby has just completed this amazing ‘David Attenborough’ project video for his school on shark conservation. Please watch and share as it really is an eye opener in why we need to protect these incredible creatures.

Thanks to Toby and www.oysterdiving.com for letting us share this video.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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