Beach Surveys

6th October 2009, Tuesday

As part of the Marine Conservation Society’s national Beachwatch (supported by Rye Harbour Nature Reserve), groups of volunteers took part in beach surveys at two local beaches in late September. Pett Level and Rye Harbour beaches were scoured for every little bit of marine debris whether it be plastic, rubber, metal, glass, wood or polystyrene. They then needed to be detectives to work out what all these pieces originally were. Some items are easier to identify – plastic from fishing line and unwound rope and nets were the most common finds at Rye Harbour, whilst pieces of crisp and sweet wrappers were common at Pett Level.

Over 170 species of marine wildlife including seabirds, turtles and whales have mistaken marine litter for food resulting in starvation, poisoning and fatal stomach blockages. Plastic packaging and discarded fishing nets also injure, entangle and drown some of Britain’s favourite marine animals including seals and dolphins.
Nationally these surveys have recorded a 110% increase in the amount of beach litter compared to 1994. The four main sources of litter found on UK beaches comes from the public, fishing, sanitary waste and shipping.
Nearly 400 beaches were surveyed around the UK this year with over 5,000 volunteers taking part. If anyone would like to take part in these surveys please email Andy Dinsdale at for more information.