Springtime is meteorologically with us! It’s becoming easier to get out to the coastline and take in that amazing salty air. Science is showing it’s very healthy to be close to the sea, indeed we may be hearing more about the Blue Mind shortly.
But with each visit to the beach it is coming more and more important to “see the beach”. That is to be aware of what the beach looks like and be able to notice changes in the flotsam and jetsam. Some changes may be beneficial to strandline foraging animals, such as mass strandings of starfish or otter shells (a mollusc, wrongly named!). But what we all need to notice is how the manmade flotsam and jetsam changes. Ask questions. What is new? What is common? What is “not normal to be on the beach”? And if something is different or “out of place” take a photo and send to Strandliners for identification or recording. All information can help the long term health of our riverine and marine environment.
Not all bad news … all the time
A solo Strandliners volunteer spent 24 hours over a period of 5 days these past few weeks clearing debris (mostly plastic) from the left (south) bank of the River Rother from Scots Float to the Rye Railway Bridge, just over 1 mile from end to end.
The result? 250 pounds (133 kilos) collected and bagged and safely stored for future collection. Muddy work!
Along the way, the volunteer bumped into East Guldeford sheep-farmer Richard Baker who raises sheep along a stretch of land that abuts the riverbank. “My girlfriend Annie has been cleaning up along here ahead of lambing season,” he says, pointing to the bank. “We put the rams – they’re Romneys; they’ve been around for generations (possibly since 500 BC) – to the ewes on November 5. An easy date to remember. We get the first lambs on April 1st.”
Romneys – the rams not to be bumped into at over 100-pounds or more – are noted for their foraging skills; even right down to the water’s edge. Removing bags and bags of secondary microplastics (minute shards of manufactured plastics like food containers and bottle caps) and fragments of glass from the pastures where the Romneys and their lambs graze is not just an exercise in cosmetics. It makes one small section of the riverine environment safer for domestic animals and wildlife alike.
One word of caution, Strandliners: This intrepid River Rother volunteer went solo. Not recommended. Always buddy-up. The current on the River Rother can run hard and fast. One slip on the mud could put you in dire straits!
You can do your bit. Strandliners, in collaboration with Surfers Against Sewage, is leading a River Rother clean-up on Tuesday April 9 and Sunday April 14. Meet at the Monk Bretton Road Bridge at 4pm and 2pm respectively. You’ll help to make our river and our seas cleaner – and you’ll get to see those cute Romney lambs at play!
A wonderful group, some old hands, some new, gave Pett Level a Keep Britain Tidy clean up as well as a survey of man-made rubbish for the Marine Conservation Society. The beach may have looked clean but still over 45kg of rubbish was removed.
The MCS survey of 100m gave 92 pieces of rubbish of which 80% was plastic. The major polluters were sweet and food wrappers/packets and bottle caps/lids from beach visitors and/or inland sources that have travelled down watercourses etc, string/cord & rope from fishing and shipping use, net pieces from fishing.
Interesting finds were more natural. Mermaid purses belonging to Thornback, Spotted and Undulate Rays, a sea mouse (below) (more info here), some necklace shell egg collars, and a quite decomposed harbour porpoise.
Call to action for everyone walking river paths in the River Rother catchment, tributaries and watercourses. Your help is needed. If you come across any pollution: 1. Take a photo of the rubbish with some background, 2. Make a note of where it is, 3. Send photo and brief report to firstname.lastname@example.org with title River Rother Rubbish Report. Much of the pollution in the sea and on beaches comes from inland sources (between 75% and 80%, but does varies around the world), so finding the sources of the rubbish is the first step to stopping the rubbish get into the environment.
Rye Bay Beachcombing (led by Strandliners CIC)
Winchelsea Beach Brand Audit (identifying which companies produce the most litter!) – Sun 7th April – (Surfers Against Sewage) – meet 4pm at small car park by toilets at end of Dog’s Hill Rd, TN36 4LX
River Rother – Brand Audit (Surfers Against Sewage – identifying which companies produce the most litter!) – Tue 9th April – meet 4pm at gate to Camber on eastern side of the Monk-Bretton Bridge, TN31 7LS. We aim to clear North Point Pumping Station to the Golf Club.
River Rother – Brand Audit (Surfers Against Sewage – identifying which companies produce the most litter!) – Sun 14th April – meet 2pm at gate to Camber on eastern side of the Monk-Bretton Bridge, TN31 7LS. We aim to survey and clear from Monk Bretton Bridge to North Point Pumping Station.
The Fairlight Berm – This site will be cleaned and surveyed later this year when the area should be safer to access. Stay tuned for further developments!
Dungeness, Lydd Ranges – Marine Conservation Society survey – The date will be short notice due to the MOD timetable. It will involve a 30 minute each way walk on shingle from the car park and back, and approx a 2 hour litter survey. If interested please email as this event will not be advertised due to the nature of the environment and has 16 participants as a maximum. A list of everyone interested will be kept and when the date is known an email will be sent.
Please email if you may be able to help out at any of these events. Anyone can take part and aid the data collection, and clean the beach for humans and animals for today and tomorrow.