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Marine Life & Conservation

Surfers Against Sewage launch ‘Million Mile Beach Clean’ – the UK’s biggest ever beach clean

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UK charity Surfers Against Sewage marked the launch of their ‘Million Mile Beach Clean’ with a 50-metre sand drawing of a seal surrounded by plastic on Cayton Bay in Yorkshire.

The striking image highlights the impacts of plastic pollution on marine wildlife, which the charity aims to tackle this year by inspiring 100,000 people to clean up their local beach, river, street or green space. The result will be one million miles cleared by the end of the year, protecting oceans, beaches and wildlife – and giving Brits a much-needed boost as we emerge from lockdown.

‘The Million Mile Beach Clean’ is part of a new environmental initiative, the Million Mile Clean, encouraging people to get out locally, on streets, country lanes, in parks and along local waterways to tackle plastic pollution and litter. The campaign aims to reconnect people with their local environment to help their physical and mental well-being. The lead partner for the campaign over the next three years is the Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation (IFCF), building on its previous support for nationwide beach cleans.

Whilst the initiative will run throughout 2021, the first week of action will take place between the 15th and 23rd of May. Surfers Against Sewage are calling for Clean Leaders across the UK to join the biggest beach clean ever and register to lead a clean during this period.

According to new research commissioned by Surfers Against Sewage, over half of Brits (54%) think COVID-19 has led to an increase in plastic pollution, with almost two-thirds (59%) seeing more waste in their area over the last 12 months. This increase could be down to the fact that a fifth (18%) of the population has bought more single-use plastic items as a result of the pandemic, with the same proportion opting to use disposable facemasks, rather than reusable ones.

The majority of people (74%) spot over 10 pieces of plastic or litter on an average walk. When extrapolated against the UK population, this could account for nearly 500 million pieces of litter and plastic pollution. Worryingly, 51% even say they see more plastic on UK beaches than wildlife, and 41% believe that UK beaches are more polluted than our European counterparts.

Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage, commented: “The ocean is under threat and we are running out of time to save it. We want to inspire an army of ocean activists to join the cause and put an end to plastic pollution in the UK. After more than a year of isolation, social distancing and reduced physical activity, the Million Mile Beach Clean reconnects communities with the environment and provides numerous benefits to mental health and physical well-being. Sign up and get involved today and together we can make a difference.”

‘The Million Mile Beach Clean’, created in direct response to the pandemic, will reconnect people with the ocean and their natural surroundings, whilst also restoring well-being as the UK emerges from winter and the pandemic. This will come as a relief to the 41% of Brits that feel their mental health has deteriorated as a result of lockdown, with half (52%) of the UK population claiming that being near water improves their well-being and mental health.

(c) Ian Lean

Dr Sabine Pahl, social psychologist at the University of Plymouth, stated:Our oceans are an integral part of our planet and our lives. Research shows that the coast and oceans have a positive impact on our health and well-being. Now more than ever it is crucial for people to reconnect with the outdoors and the Million Mile Beach Clean provides an opportunity for people to do something for their health whilst also creating a positive impact on the environment.”

Several notable organisations and individuals are supporting the campaign including the Outdoor Swimming Society, ex-professional surfer and mental health advocate Laura Crane, diver and biologist Gillian Burke and wildlife presenter Lizzie Daly.

Richard Walker, IFCF Trustee and Managing Director of Iceland Foods, added: “As a surfer, beach user and business leader, I believe it is imperative that we protect and restore our oceans as they are essential for all life on earth. The Million Mile Beach Clean is an opportunity to make a positive impact in reducing the impact of plastic pollution across the UK. I can’t wait to be a part of the biggest community clean up ever.”

Surfers Against Sewage are calling for people across the UK to join the campaign and commit to cleaning up their local beach or neighbourhood. To get involved visit their website here and track your beach cleans via their Strava Club community group. The initiative will last throughout the UN Decade of Ocean Science, delivering a million miles a year, ten million by 2030 and aligning with SAS’s ten-year ambition of ending plastic pollution on UK beaches by 2030.

Gillian Burke, wildlife presenter and biologist, said: “Making the connection between mental health and environment is key in mobilising communities in the right way and the Million Mile Beach Clean does just that. 100,000 volunteers, each cleaning their local beach or river or street or mountain – the impact speaks for itself. It’s ambitious, it’s physical, I’m in!”

For more information about Surfers Against Sewage visit their website by clicking 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

Marine Life & Conservation

Big Seaweed Search Returns!

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From 23rd – 31st July 2022, the Marine Conservation Society and the Natural History Museum will be asking people across the UK to head to the coast and spot seaweed as part of community science project, Big Seaweed Search Week.

Seaweed is one of the world’s great unsung heroes, playing a crucial role in marine ecosystems and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. The UK, with over 650 species of seaweed, is home to a diverse range of species.

The Big Seaweed Search Week asks beachgoers to search for, and record, 14 of the most common seaweed species. This vital information helps the Marine Conservation Society and the Natural History Museum to map the distribution of specific species and collect long-term data that enables them to determine, as a result of seaweeds found, the impact of environmental changes in the ocean.

Amy Pilsbury, Citizen Science Lead at the Marine Conservation Society, said:“It’s easy for anyone to get involved in Big Seaweed Search Week – you don’t need to be a seaweed expert or live near the sea, just one visit to the coast will do. Studying seaweeds can tell us a lot about wider ocean and environmental conditions and the information supports real scientific research.

“Seaweed is a real ocean superstar, helping to buffer the effects of climate change, absorbing and storing carbon and protecting our coasts from waves and storm damage. The more data we gather with our Big Seaweed Searchers, the more knowledge and influence we have to protect our ocean, and seaweeds, for the future.”

As well as providing vital habitats for other species, seaweeds play a major part in marine food chains and are a rich source of nutrients for animals such as crabs and sea urchins.

Seaweed plays a critical role in combating the climate crisis. These fast-growing algae produce oxygen – more than land plants – with phytoplankton (like seaweed) providing at least half of the oxygen we breathe.  Seaweed absorbs carbon more effectively than trees, storing an estimated 175 million tonnes each year – equal to 10% of the world’s car emissions.

However, populations of kelp – large brown seaweeds that are a vital ‘blue carbon’ store – are reported to be declining around the world, limiting ocean ecosystems’ abilities to absorb carbon and combat the climate crisis.

The Big Seaweed Search gathers information on species, such as kelp, which have the potential to be affected by rising sea temperatures, the arrival of non-native species and ocean acidification – environmental changes affecting the ocean and the health of marine ecosystems.

A young lumpsucker: Alex Mustard

Data gathered by volunteers helps build a picture of what our shores are like, how they’re changing and informs scientists and decision-makers how best to protect them.

Juliet Brodie, Merit Researcher at the National History Museum, said:“It’s inspiring to see how the Big Seaweed Search is developing.  We’re using the data submitted for our scientific research to build distribution maps which means we can track seaweed species as they respond to environmental changes over time. We’ve also been able to use over 1,000 submitted records in our work on a Red Data List of British seaweeds – which evaluates indigenous species and how endangered they are.”

It’s easy to get involved in Big Seaweed Search Week, and anyone can take part. Training videos and downloadable resources are available, including a guide which helps beachgoers to identify the seaweed species they’re likely to spot and explains what they need to do.

The survey can be carried out as an individual or in groups, and be completed on a mobile, tablet or computer.

To get involved simply:

  1. Register to take part and download your guide and recording form at bigseaweedsearch.org
  2. Choose your 5 metres[AB1]  of coastline to survey
  3. Fill in your survey form
  4. Take LOTS of clear, close-up photographs for your survey to be accepted
  5. Submit your survey through bigseaweedsearch.org

You can visit the Marine Conservation Society for all the information you’ll need to get started.

Header Image: Paul Naylor

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Marine Life & Conservation

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Andy Forster of Dive Project Cornwall

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Gemma and Ian chat to Andy Forster.  Andy is the Project Director at Dive Project Cornwall.  He tells us about his own passion for diving as well as how Dive Project Cornwall is going to educate and inspire many youngsters over the coming year.

Have a listen here:

Find out more at www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk


Find more podcast episodes and information at the new www.thebigscuba.com  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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