The annual beach clean was scheduled today. It's surprisingly hard work and this task simply could not get done without the enthusiastic help of the team of conservation volunteers on Work Party 2.
A total of 333 items weighing 37.2 kg were removed from the boulder beach. This is substantially lower than the number and mass of items collected last year which is encouraging. However, just over half of all the items were made of plastic and this value will be an underestimate given that many small pieces of plastic may fall between the pebbles and remain out of reach. Unusual items included three 'foreign' items; a Spanish buoy, a spray cream can from Belgium and a can of oil from America.
So, why do we do the beach clean? It's obviously great to improve the aesthetics of the beach but it's also useful in a couple of other ways too. The Marine Conservation Society organises beach cleans across the country to provide a national data set to monitor how the coast is impacted by litter. The information we collect from our beach clean is an important data point in the MCS survey as it is the beach least likely to accumulate waste from land sources. It allows us to monitor debris at St Kilda and determine trends over time. The results from the MCS national beach clean are not published until early 2016 so it will be a while before we know how our haul compares to the national average. I suspect it will be marginally less but that's no comfort really when annual statistics from last year show that beach litter was at its highest level for two decades.