A winter beach clean

A winter beach clean

Emma Lowe, our North Wales Wildlife Trust Living Seas intern, takes us on a journey of her first self-led beach clean and the interesting things she found at Porth Nobla, Anglesey

Friday 11th December marked the 11th day of the Living Seas #12DaysBeforeThe12DaysOfChristmas beach clean series, and was also the first beach clean that I led as part of the Our Wild Coast Internship programme. I woke up to a typical rainy welsh day but luckily by the time we started the weather had cleared leaving behind a calm and almost warm morning. The beach clean was at Porth Nobla along the west coast of Anglesey near Rhosneigr. It is a sandy shore with a few rocky sections which are great for rock pooling, and is also a popular surfing beach. Even in the middle of December there were still people coming for a surf, albeit a short one.

Living Seas Intern Emma Lowe on the Mena Straight


As we walked along Porth Nobla to the far end it became clear that we would easily fill our bin bags with litter. The most common offenders were cotton bud sticks and fishing gear, as well as nurdles higher up the beach which had be deposited during a high tide. Nurdles, for those who don’t know, are microplastics about the size of a lentil and are the primary form of plastics. Transported by large container ships, billions are used worldwide to create the vast range of plastic products we use today. When they enter the oceans (usually from the loss of cargo crates during storms) they pose a significant threat to the wildlife. Due to their small size, nurdles are often mistaken for food by fish, sea birds and other marine life, and have been found ingested in more than 220 different species.

Nurdles collected from Rhoscolyn


Nurdles collected from one beach clean at Rhoscolyn in December 2019 

The aim of the #12days campaign was to raise awareness of the amount of waste that is produced at Christmas. A couple of small green solider toys were found which were a stern reminder of the waste we leave behind and the impact we have on the planet. We didn’t just find litter however, as all along the beach there were washed up shark egg cases that you may know as mermaids’ purses. The majority of the egg cases we found were from the Bull Huss, Scyliorhinus stellaris, which is also commonly known as the Nurse-hound. We also found the egg cases of the small-spotted cat shark, Scyliorhinus canicula, and Thornback Ray, Raja clavata.

It is always eye-opening, going on a beach clean. No beach clean is ever the same as there are often things that you wouldn’t expect to find. For example, during our beach clean we found a sofa seat cushion! Nonetheless, it is heart-warming when a group of likeminded strangers come together to clear the litter. The more events that are run, the further the outreach will be and more people will be inspired to taking steps to cutting down waste and help clean up our seas.

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