On the 04/06/19 Launceston College year 7 students went to Bude to learn about marine and coastal pollution. After driving in coaches from Launceston we met Avril from The Cleaner Seas Project at Crooklets Beach. Here, we learnt about the sources of different marine pollution and the different types of plastic pollution which ends up on our beaches. According to Avril, a lorry load of plastics arrive on Cornish beaches every day.
Our first activity involved a mass beach clean. We used litter picking sticks to pick up litter from the beach. We found that there were a lot of small black filters on the beach which apparently had been washing up on many Cornish beaches recently. Avril suggested that this may have been from a water treatment plant. We found 30 of these filters amongst many hundreds of other items of rubbish along the strand line and at the back of the beach. Some of these pieces of litter were from boats, some from the fishing industry and some from beach goers who had left items such as a part of a wetsuit after their half term holiday.
Our second activity was a micro plastics collection. We used bag filters to sift through the sand on the beach, discovering thousands of tiny fragments of plastic, which had broken down into the sand, becoming part of the beach itself. These apparently break down so small that they enter the marine food-chain via the stomachs of fish. Some tiny fragments can even find their way into plankton. These are microscopic marine organisms. These plastics emit poisons and are becoming widespread throughout the bodies of marine organisms and even ourselves. Concerning, we are currently unsure of the long term impact this type of microscopic pollution will have on our ecosystems.
Our final activity was a land based litter collection. This helped us to appreciate that marine pollution can be blown off the land. As an immediate impact of the day, we were particularly careful about keeping our food wrappers in our pockets after lunch, rather than allowing them to be taken onto the beach by the wind.
The day helped us to appreciate the impact we can have on the marine ecosystem, while also increasing our awareness of the impact industry and businesses can have. Some of us would like to take more action on this issue. We are considering running an assembly about this next year, and perhaps even inviting Avril, from the Cleaner Seas Project to help spread awareness on the issue.
We hope that by being on the beach our very presence helped to add to public awareness of marine plastics. Furthermore, we understand that Avril will be using our visit to help promote the worthy cause. We really feel that we are more responsible as a result of the trip and feel happy in the knowledge that we are contributing to a project that will save animals, sustain our local environment and help others to do the same. After our assembly, we hope to work more closely with the industries which are manufacturing the plastic. This is the bigger issue! By 7SC