Me and my other half Dom decided to do a beach clean after feeling completely shocked at the state of the beaches in Zante, Greece. We swapped our sunbathing for rigorous beach combing for plastics and other forms of pollution that can cause damage to marine life. We only got as far as 1/4 of the beach, filling two plastic bags that we had reused. We lifted rocks and stones to find plastic wedged in between cracks and buried beneath the beach pebbles.
The two bags of rubbish were collected on Dafne beach, just one of the beaches supposedly protected for turtle nesting. The wooden cross structures in the images above show the areas of sand protected from tourists who might damage the nests. Tourists are also told to refrain from putting beach umbrellas into the sand. Whilst Zante is known for its turtle protected areas, it seems that the pollution of plastic has been overlooked as a key source of damage to these creatures! One of our biggest concerns was the amount of plastic nurdles and pieces of Polystyrene that we found along the sea shore and embedded within the sand. Whilst larger chunks of plastic and fishing net can entangle and drown sea creatures, these microlpastics spread like wild fire. Sea creatures mistake these tiny bead like pellets for fish eggs and other forms of food. Once they enter the food chain, there damage only increases.
A list of the items that we collected from the beach, in the space of 2 hours:
Using the litter from just one of the plastic bags, I created the image of a sea turtle to highlight the severity of this issue in context, as well as to note the many types, colours, and forms of the plastic found.
Ironically, on another mini beach clean that we conducted later in the week, our feet and shoes became covered in oil spilt from the big day-trip boats that had passed the beach that afternoon! So if it's not one form of pollution, it's another.
I would strongly encourage anyone visiting beaches, whether on holiday or on your daily walk, to bring a reusable bag with you and collect the litter that you pass. Make yourself aware of the causes and effects of plastic pollution so that we can educate ourselves and others and do our bit protect our environment. Whilst major companies, business, and industrial fishermen are mostly responsible for the production of plastics and the litter that enters our oceans, we too must take responsibility in the way that we purchase, utilise, and dispose of products. In limiting our plastic usage, as well as taking responsibility for our rubbish and the litter that we find, we can help minimise the amount of plastic that enters the food chain. I could go on forever but I think that I shall stop here. Please care enough to never stop learning about our environment and the impact that we have upon its beauty. Please help to nurture nature back to health.