Friday, 5 May 2017

Sea Champions take the MCS beach clean to Egypt!

MCS really is lucky to have such dedicated volunteers who are always going the extra mile to protect our seas. A wonderful example of this is Sea Champion Lucy Alfred who's passion for tackling marine litter inspired her to take the MCS beach clean to the coasts of Africa. Let's find out how she got on.

"Wetsuit: check. Fins: check. MCS bibs: check. Bikini: check Sun cream: check. Wait, what? MCS bibs? In my suitcase? Bound for a diving holiday in Egypt?

Yes, that’s right, I took time out of my Red Sea diving holiday to do a beach and reef clean. I even got a gang of other holiday makers to help me! Luckily they and our hosts Roots Red Sea and Pharaoh Dive Club didn’t need much persuading. As ocean-crazy divers, we’re all passionate about conserving the very thing that gives us so much pleasure. So, armed with some snazzy orange MCS bibs, line cutters and a lot of rubbish containers, we hit local dive site El Gasus one morning.

I and Roots volunteer Kirsty, organised two teams of volunteers. One team focused on the beach, while the others did some serious sub-sea cleaning.

With the sun on our backs the diving team descended into the depths of the pretty dive site. Heading north first we saw virtually no rubbish, due to the nature of the way the wind and currents move along the coast. We did spot a few lion fish and scorpion fish though – awesome!

Heading south, however, we were overwhelmed with litter. Strewn everywhere, it had been deposited on the reef by the southbound wind and current. Fishing line was choking soft and hard corals, plastic packaging floated amongst the copious jellyfish and plastic bottles were embedded in the sand.

While some items were easy to extricate, it was a delicate job unravelling the fishing line without damaging the reef. Indeed, some had been there so long, that corals and anemones had started to grow on or around it. We obviously left that well alone as Nature, after all, always tries to make the best of a bad situation!

We worked hard to remove as much as we could, hauling up bags laden with non-biodegradable material. The land-based team did an equally sterling job, collecting metres of abandoned rope, and other fishing-related litter.

Thankfully, Roots and Pharaoh Dive Club are set up for this sort of exercise. They regularly host marine biologists and conservation volunteers, who work hard to research and preserve the stunningly diverse local dive sites. They were really accommodating and helpful when it came to organising the session. Thank you to Roots, all the staff at Pharaoh Dive Club and the volunteers who assisted us. Special thanks also to Steve King and Ellie D’Silva for the photographs and videos of the event.

If you’d like support from MCS to organise something similar, either in the UK or abroad, be sure to get in touch with their Beachwatch Team. I couldn’t have done it without their help!"

Thanks Lucy, what a fab job! If you'd like to find out more about MCS's Beachwatch Programme and get involved in a beach clean near you then just visit our website.