Coastwise North Devon held its annual Downend Beach Clean (click link for picture) early this year as part of the Biosphere's Big Beach Clean Weekend, on 21st March. We were joined by members of Croyde Surf Club and Surf South West and had a record attendance of over 40 volunteers. Thanks to this excellent co-operative effort all the beaches and rocky gullies leading to the headland were cleared of rubbish in under two hours.
Beach clean organiser Paula Ferris says "We picked up everything we could, about 50 sacks of rubbish and a load of broken glass, and left the beaches ready for the season, looking good again. There was less debris trapped in the rocks than in previous years, probably because of fewer strong on-shore winds, but it was still upsetting to see all the junk we humans throw away on the beach and in the sea, which soon comes back to give us and wildlife a lot of grief. There were some large items including two lorry tyres, and several piles of tangled fishing tackle. Plastic bottles were all over the place, and more broken glass than usual, really dangerous in the sand.
The countless tiny pieces of plastic littering the strandline pose real danger to marine wildlife, and whilst we did our best to remove them it's difficult to make an impact. The beach clean will have done something to get rid of rubbish before it gets broken up by the seas and added to this increasingly plastic sand, but it would be so much better if we didn't trash the environment in the first place.