By Dianne McGrath, with Janet Aitchison
During a break in her training for the Clipper 2023-24 Round the World Yacht Race Take 3 Ambassador, Dianne McGrath, took part in a beach clean-up on Hayling Island on England’s south coast, organised by the Final Straw Foundation.
Hayling Island is an important habitat for migrating coastal seabirds such as Sanderlings, who fly all the way from Siberia, and Icelandic Oystercatchers, who are attracted to the island’s famous oyster beds.
“It is a stunning location, and well worth a visit if you’re in the south of England,” said Dianne. “I was surprised to see what we collected and how much the 31 volunteers gathered from what looked like a ‘clean beach’. “
“I was particularly interested in the nurdles and microplastics we collected. Nurdles are the tiny pellets of plastic that are used to make all plastic items. They are about as big as a lentil and sadly look like fish eggs to unknowing seabirds.”
Dianne’s focus for this beach clean-up was microplastics. The British organisation, Just One Ocean had conducted a Big Microplastics Survey on Hayling Island in 2019. This survey demonstrated that some locations on the island were a likely sink for microplastics. Sadly, a lot of birds unknowingly consume microplastics, and this can have a dramatic effect on their digestive tract, which can cause their stomach to break down, resulting in starvation and even death.
“Thank goodness for organisations like the Final Straw Foundation and Take 3 for the Sea who undertake clean-ups along beaches, foreshores and waterways,” said Dianne. “It’s so important that we do whatever we can to help preserve the habitat for these coastal bird species and for all marine creatures by preventing plastics and litter going into the ocean.”
“We removed 14.5 kg of plastic from the beach today, but If you can’t make it to a clean-up, you can still help protect our oceans by taking these simple steps: Take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere and you have made a difference.”
Every year, up to 12 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans. Litter left on our coastlines pollutes our waters and can harm our wildlife. At the Final Straw Foundation, we are working hard to try to combat the scourge of plastic in our oceans and along our coasts. We do this by:
- Running beach clean-ups for the public, schools and businesses.
- Visiting schools to give assemblies and run workshops about the impact of plastic pollution on the environment.
- Working with businesses to see how they can reduce their disposable plastic ‘footprint’.
- Linking with other environmental organisations and stakeholders to collaborate – together, we are more powerful.
- Creating novel ways to spread the message about the impact of plastic pollution and ways we can try to mitigate it, including art projects and events.