Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Cleaning up the Norfolk coastline with Sea Champion Michelle

Volunteers and 130kg litter cleaned up!

Michelle loves the beach but was getting increasingly upset by the amount of litter that she found on her seaside strolls so she decided to become a Sea Champion and do something about it!
I have always loved the beach and found the ocean a fascinating place; so many wonderful creatures and beautiful areas. One of my favourite childhood memories is looking in rock pools for crabs, shrimps and starfish and just watching them do their thing. Walking along the shore and seeing the small common jelly fish looking like tiny jewels along the tide line waiting for the sea to come and collect them is one of the many natural and simple beauties and it’s completely free!
Spot the polystyrene pieces!
One thing that has always annoyed me is litter. Not only is it unsightly and a danger to the public but the effect it has on marine life is devastating. So many times I have admired our beautiful Norfolk beaches only to have that beauty tarnished by somebody’s discarded plastic bag or whole bags full of litter where someone has enjoyed a picnic and left the litter behind. One of the most disgusting sites that I find particularly annoying is the dog mess left in plastic bags. I would often walk along the beach collecting bags of litter and couldn't help wondering why more was not being done! Then I discovered the Marine Conservation Society’s Beachwatch program and decided to become a Beachwatch organiser, organising clean ups at the beach I grew up near.
Part of an unwanted chair

I started organising cleans at Bacton and Walcott beach in North Norfolk. This then extended to Sea – Palling beach as well which is a pretty bay abundant with wildlife including grey seals which I have recently started wardening. I organise clean ups once a month or more covering four small beaches and try to get as many locals involved as I can as well as non-locals too. To start with I had a bit of difficulty trying to get people involved but after a few cleans word has got out and more and more people are joining in, we even have some regulars which is great!

There's even an old hoover in here!
In 2014 we did around 20 beach cleans and over 800 kg of rubbish was picked up. The main marine litter culprits were plastic, tarpaulin, rope along the breakers, fishing gear and polystyrene. I have found a hoover, deck chair frames, a dingy, part of an air balloon, wind breakers and even part of a toilet!

If you ever visit North Norfolk why not join in? I have a Facebook page you can visit for updates and the cleans are also on the Beachwatch events page. They are always a great day out and its very rewarding. It is a great feeling knowing you are doing your bit to help!


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