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Marine Life & Conservation

Results of Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean show concerning volume of PPE litter

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Charity’s annual Great British Beach Clean results are word of warning on PPE pollution

This year, the Marine Conservation Society’s annual Great British Beach Clean, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, took place against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic. As the charity introduced measures to ensure beaches could still be cleaned and surveyed in accordance with guidelines, it also asked volunteers to record face masks and plastic gloves for the first time.

The charity’s citizen science project gives an insight into the most common forms of litter blighting UK shores. This year’s results are supported by inland data collected by volunteers embarking on the charity’s Source to Sea Litter Quest.

The results from this year’s Great British Beach Clean show a concerning, but perhaps predictable, presence of PPE litter. Face masks and gloves were found on almost 30% of beaches cleaned by Marine Conservation Society volunteers over the week-long event. The inland Source to Sea Litter Quest data shows a similarly worrying presence of masks and gloves, with more than two thirds (69%) of litter picks finding PPE items.

Lizzie Prior, Great British Beach Clean Coordinator at the Marine Conservation Society said: “The amount of PPE our volunteers found on beaches and inland this year is certainly of concern. Considering mask wearing was only made mandatory in shops in England in late July, little more than three months before the Great British Beach Clean, the sharp increase in PPE litter should be a word of warning for what could be a new form of litter polluting our beaches in the future.”  

Like many other single-use items, disposable face masks and gloves pose a threat to wildlife on land and at sea. Marine animals could mistake face masks and gloves for prey, filling their stomachs with materials which will not break down and could prove to be fatal. Animals also risk being tangled in the straps of face masks, with seabirds’ feet pictured recently being wrapped in the elastic strings.

Drinks litter continues to be found on UK beaches, with an average of 30 drinks containers, caps and lids being found per 100m of beach surveyed this year. Inland, almost all litter picks (99%) found drinks litter. This continued blight to the UK’s shores and inland spaces illustrates the urgent need for governments to follow Scotland’s lead and introduce an all-inclusive Deposit Return Scheme.

Dr Laura Foster, Head of Clean Seas at the Marine Conservation Society said: “This year’s Great British Beach Clean data, in addition to the Source to Sea Litter Quest data, shows just how crucial it is that Wales, England and Northern Ireland follow in the footsteps of Scotland and urgently introduce an all-inclusive Deposit Return Scheme.

“Despite lockdown, with many of us spending more time at home, littering in public spaces has continued unabated. Almost every single local litter pick found at least one drinks container, which is incredibly concerning. An effective Deposit Return Scheme would take the UK one step closer to a circular economy model and drastically reduce the volume of single-use pollution in the UK’s streets, parks and on our beaches.”

The top 5 most common litter items on UK beaches in 2020 (average per 100m of beach surveyed):

  1. Plastic and polystyrene pieces (0-50cm) – 167.2
  2. Plastic and polystyrene caps and lids – 19.7
  3. Wet wipes – 17.7
  4. Cigarette stubs – 16.2
  5. Plastic string – 15.8

For more information about the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean and year round Beachwatch programme, please visit the charity’s website.

Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Night with The Shark Trust

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The Shark Trust are on a mission to get people talking about sharks. What makes a shark, why sharks matter, what challenges they face and what YOU can do to protect them.

The Ocean Conservation Trust has been working with the Shark Trust to produce a series of “Shark Shorts” – simple explainer films to get the conversation started. And now it’s premiere night!

You can be there!

  • Wednesday 11th August at 6:30pm
  • National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth

Walk the red carpet and take your seat for the first showing of the Shark Shorts.

The Shark Trust will be there with the Ocean Conservation Trust to answer your questions and make this a truly jawsome night.

Book your ticket by clicking here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Expedition on the Saba Bank to Enhance Tiger Shark Protection

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This August a team of researchers will spend a week on the Saba Bank investigating the life-cycle of tiger sharks. Researchers will investigate the migration routes, where and when tiger sharks breed so they can protect them better within the Dutch Caribbean’s Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary as well as beyond. In this expedition members from the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), Nature Foundation St. Maarten (NFSXM), St. Eustatius National Parks (STENAPA), STINAPA Bonaire, the Aruba National Parks Foundation (FPNA), the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and World Wildlife Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL) will participate.

In 2016, the Saba Conservation Foundation, Nature Foundation St. Maarten, and Sharks for Kids  partnered together as part of DCNA’s Save our Sharks Project funded by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery. Since then, satellite tagging of tiger sharks has been conducted on the Saba Bank and around Sint Maarten. Through this research we now know that tiger sharks in Dutch waters travel throughout the Caribbean basin, with most of these tagged sharks being sexually mature females. During the upcoming expedition the researchers aim to not only tag and track more tiger sharks to further investigate the life cycle, but they will also measure if and how large the pups inside pregnant tiger sharks are. This will help to determine if the Saba Bank is in fact a breeding ground for tiger sharks, one of the main goals of the expedition.

(c) Sami Kattan

The other objective is to see where these transboundary sharks migrate to in order to better understand the importance of the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary and protect other geographical areas. The Yarari Sanctuary was established on September 1, 2015 and aims to protect marine mammals, sharks, and rays throughout the waters of Bonaire, Saba, and since September 2018, St. Eustatius. Collaboration between not only the six Dutch Caribbean islands but countries across the wider Caribbean as a whole is necessary in order to protect and conserve these essential species and ecosystems. Therefore the Caribbean Shark Coalition was recently formed to collaborate better in the entire Greater Caribbean region.

Celebrated on July 28 each year, World Nature Conservation Day acknowledges that a healthy environment is the foundation for a stable and healthy society. This includes a healthy ocean which, undoubtedly, depends on sharks. Sharks are large top predators that serve a critical role in maintaining balance in the marine ecosystem. Sharks help keep their prey population healthy by eating the weak while also affecting their prey’s distribution. In healthy oceans, sharks help to maintain stable fish stocks and healthy coral reefs and seagrass beds, which is important for the fisheries and the economy of the islands.

The Tiger Shark research expedition is coordinated by the DCNA and generously funded by WWF-NL through the Biodiversity Funds and the Dutch National Postcode Lottery.

For more information on the Pregnant Tiger Shark Expedition, follow the participating organizations on Facebook, Instagram or DCNA’s website.

Header image: Jarrett Corke (WWF Canada)

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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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