Waves and Mermaid's Tears - thought provoking stuff at Coastwise.....

Coastwise member and geologist Paul Madgett concluded the autumn programme in fine style with a talk on ‘Waves – shapers of the shore’. Paul, with his retired-lecturer's lucidity, explained how waves originate, speaking of the roles of the earth’s rotation, convection and the resultant Hadley Cells. He illustrated the sheer power of some waves, like those crashing onto the beaches of Westward Ho!, in equivalent terms to 33-tonne trucks travelling at 70 mph .

The dramatic effect of wave power was shown in before and after photographs of Hartland Quay, built in the 19th century and almost completely removed by waves – with a maximum ‘fetch’ of 3500 miles - in the 20th.  

We learned about Spilling, Plunging and Destructive Waves, Refracted Waves, Rogue Waves, the surfers’ famous Seventh Wave, with detours encompassing Tsunamis and Undular Bores. 

An additional pleasure was offered by another Coastwise member, the artist and poet Marion Elmes. Marion read one poem about waves to introduce Paul's talk, and, thought-provokingly, another about ‘Mermaids’ Tears’, those tiny plastic droplets to be found on our beaches by the million.  They are the basic manufactured material stuff from which plastic objects all kinds are fabricated. They are consumed by fish and birds with terrible consequences.  Paul’s lecture and Marion’s poems ensured lively debate before members departed for their Christmas lunch.


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