March 2019

Welcome to all new subscribers, over 300 now and growing every event. If you know of anyone who’d be interested in keeping up to date with marine and riverine litter, plastic, wildlife news and events in the Rye Bay area (and sometimes further afield), please do pass this newsletter on.

We are coming up to a busy part of the year as winter draws to a close. So whilst cleaning beaches, we can survey and record items to help bring a stop to further rubbish washing up on our shores. It is only through this data collection that organisations such as the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage can help lobby government to introduce changes and help reduce this plastic tide (other rubbish too!).

Plastic and other lost items 

This is a very interesting blogpost by Jane Darke in Cornwall (below). It brings up some thought provoking points about the present reaction to our past throw away lifestyle.
Jane’s husband was Nick Darke the playwright, poet and lobster fisherman, and they made the TV series, “The Wrecking Season”.
In summary it concerns;
Disturbance of the fragile strandline ecosystem.
Where should we focus our efforts in response to this waste.
Global equality.

What does everyone think? (Click on link below to read)

Harbour porpoise stranded at Pett Level beach, Friday March 1st. Photo: David Furness

Cetacean Strandings

David reported it to the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme. The porpoise was 1.6m long (nose to fork of tail) and had recent open wounds. If anyone comes across any non-live stranded cetacean, seals, large-bodied sharks or turtles. If you spot a stranded cetacean on the shoreline or in the surf please do the following: 1. Take a photograph. This is invaluable for species identification and assessing the level of decomposition (which affects whether we do a post-mortem examination), 2. Estimate the animal’s size in metres or feet, 3. Note the exact location and date, 4. Send these details and your photos to strandings@nhm.ac.uk or call 0800 6520 333.

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 Strandliners with the title River Rother Rubbish report. Much of the pollution in the sea and on beaches comes from inland sources (between 75% and 80%), so finding the sources of the rubbish is the first step to stopping the rubbish get into the environment.

Mermaid purses are shark, skate and ray egg cases. Here are six different species found on Rye Bay beaches last month, try to identify them at the Shark Trust Great Eggcase Hunt website. Finding these on the strandline and uploading the findings to the Shark Trust gives valuable information about the health of the populations.

Great Global Nurdle Hunt

Small groups ventured to the River Cuckmere and Camber Sands as part of the Great Global Nurdle Hunt. We surveyed these two sites for primary micro plastic (nurdles and Bio-beads are manufactured plastic pellets no larger than 5mm that are lost in different ways to the environment). Here is a nurdle chart so you too can identify these nurdles and Bio-beads on your local beaches – and please email Strandliners if you do find any! 
Whilst these surveys are very much a fingertip search on hands and knees using sieves, dustpan & brushes, spades and buckets, they can be huge fun. Part of the benefit of joining in is, that this often depressing issue of plastic in the environment has the opportunity to bring together people with diverse life experiences, and we often end up feeling hugely buoyant after each social beach survey gathering!

But on the downside, here are the findings.

Camber Sands
4 X 1m square quadrants held 34 nurdles and 115 biobeads which gives an average of
Nurdles = 8.5 per m2
Bio-beads = 28.75 per m2
Total = 37.25 per m2

The River Cuckmere
Two sites on River Cuckmere,
600m upstream on highest (but fresh – tide covered/reached in last month) riverbank strandline. 
Nurdles = 119 per m2
Bio-beads = 116 per m2
Total = 235 per m2

50m upstream on highest (but fresh – tide covered/reached) salt marsh strandline.
Nurdles = 822 per m2
Bio-beads = 991 per m2
Not sure = 52 per m2
Total = 1865  per m2

This data is now with Fidra who organise these nurdle hunts so that they can continue to map the presence of nurdles and Bio-beads.

Thank you everyone for being part of this project. The Fidra press release is just in, plastic pellets found on 84% of all beaches globally by 1200 volunteers from the Galapagos Islands to Kenya to Rye Bay, East Sussex. 

MSC Survey at Galley Hill

Bexhill Environmental Group held a Marine Conservation Society Litter Survey at Galley Hill, Bexhill on February 9th. It was probably the windiest I have ever attempted a survey! Possible recorded items flying back out of our bags, litter flying through the survey area … and out again – do you record it or not? But no persons were lost and another site set up to collect data. The next BEG MCS litter survey and beach clean is 9.15am Saturday 9th March, meeting at West Parade opp. Richmond Road, Bexhill. 

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