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Decade-long study of beach litter finds sharp rise in types of litter such as polystyrene foam, balloons and fishing nets

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Near-doubling of smaller plastic pieces likely to continue as items enter the sea and break down

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory have studied the findings from beach litter surveys carried out over a ten year period by volunteers for the Marine Conservation Society’s Beachwatch programme. They found that some types of litter increased significantly over the period, and recommend that urgent action should be taken to tackle them.

Data for 2.4 million items of litter collected through over 73,000 volunteer hours during the period 2005-14 were studied. To define statistically significant trends in litter levels, the researchers took into account variations in numbers of people taking part in surveys, the amount of time spent carrying out each survey, and differences in the lengths of beaches covered by volunteers.

They found that while overall quantities of litter recorded by volunteers showed no statistically significant change over the decade, several types of litter had increased. These include small plastic fragments, plastic food packaging, wet wipes, polystyrene foam, balloons and large fishing nets.

There were clear variations in litter levels between regions. The beaches of South West of England and South Wales were observed to have the highest abundance of litter items, whilst beaches to the North and West of Scotland had the lowest. The South West of England and South Wales exhibited the highest levels fishing litter and food and drinks packaging, while Eastern England showed the highest numbers of wet wipes.

The majority of material was identified as being of land-based origin, mainly from public littering.

Sarah Nelms, a PhD researcher from Plymouth Marine Laboratory and University of Exeter, said: “Our finding that the majority of beach litter originates from the public is very concerning and indicates a need for better education on the consequences of dropping rubbish. Clean seas and beaches are hugely important for the environment and the economy as well as our own health and well-being.”

Laura Foster, Head of Pollution at the Marine Conservation Society said: “This independent study has clearly identified a rise in several litter items, such as food and drink waste and wet wipes found on British beaches. MCS is seeking to address these sources of litter by running targeted campaigns to establish bottle deposit schemes, and to raise awareness with the public and retailers that ‘Wet Wipes Turn Nasty’. Governments, through developing litter strategies, can be better informed by studies such as these to put effective measures together to reduce litter.”

The researchers concluded that organised citizen-science programmes such as Beachwatch, which define a sampling methodology and record effort, provide a valid and effective means of monitoring marine litter. They also provide a highly cost-effective method of collecting data on a large scaleand engaging citizens in an issue that affects us all.

The research is published in Science of the Total Environment here.

To find out more about the Marine Conservation Society visit www.mcsuk.org.

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Mares & SSI launch new promotion

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SSI expands financial support to SSI Members worldwide. 

2020 has been an unusual and challenging year for the entire world, especially the diving and travel industry!  To weather the crisis, SSI immediately jumped into action to help Training Centers and Professionals around the world.  

In response to COVID-19, SSI launched the No Water, No Problem Campaign, put Final Exams online, and held hundreds of Webinars to train Professionals on how to use distance learning to teach the dry Specialties online. The FREE SCIENCE OF DIVING promotion resulted in SSI Training Centers worldwide register over 50,000 FREE DIGITAL KITS, funding more than $3.5 MILLION IN RETAIL VALUE. Additionally, SSI introduced an aggressive DOUBLE PRO REWARDS incentive to help SSI Professionals compensate 2020 Renewal Fees and reduce those for 2021. Currently, the WE WANT YOU Crossover promotion aims to fill the industry need for instructors and strengthen the entire SSI Professional community.

Now, in conjunction with Mares, SSI is launching the GO DIVING – PROTECT YOURSELF. OWN EQUIPMENT Promotion, which includes a FREE SSI EQUIPMENT TECHNIQUES DIGITAL KIT. This new campaign strives to motivate divers worldwide to go diving and buy equipment. Look for more information on this next retail support campaign within the next few days.

“These are just a few examples of how we have supported and are continuing to support our Training Centers, Professionals, and divers worldwide. To provide even more economic security and help in business recovery, WE WILL NOT INCREASE PRICES FOR 2021. While travel was restricted and some key resort areas completely locked down, SSI mainly focused on supporting domestic markets with retail-driven incentives. Now, in this next re-opening phase, we need to shift gear and assist resort markets that have no local diving community and are 100% dependent on the traveling diver. Therefore, SSI will grant certain special conditions and delayed payment options to specific resort markets which have been locked down for longer than six months or suffered from closed borders,” stated Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO.

Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO, explains further, “To financially support these needed investments which directly benefit SSI Members and to protect the health of our valuable members and staff, we will forego all 2021 Trade Shows over the next 12 months. Despite international uncertainty, every time we experience one of these events, the entire SSI Network emerges stronger and more resilient. Be assured, SSI is your trustful partner within the Diving Industry!”

For more information about SSI visit their website by clicking here.

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Photo Gallery: Shark Diving in The Bahamas

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In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they look at Shark Diving in The Bahamas.


The Bahamas offers some of the very finest shark diving experiences in the world. The islands have protected sharks in their waters creating one of the first Shark Sanctuaries in the world. Several species of shark can be seen and photographed, with each island offering a different type of shark diving, making this destination the perfect place for a multi-island, multi-shark trip of a lifetime.

Great Hammerhead Shark diving in Bimini

Bull Sharks in Bimini

Tiger Shark off Grand Bahama

Oceanic Whitetip Shark off Cat Island

Nurse Shark off Abaco

Caribbean Reef Sharks off New Providence

Lemon Sharks off Grand Bahama

For more images from The Bahamas and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.

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