Devon and Cornwall have certainly taken the brunt of recent storms. Our local beaches have faced devastation, with sea walls being destroyed, beachside cafes being ruined and sandy beaches being sucked out to sea, replaced only by a bed of rocks. Waves of up to 27ft have been recorded in Lands End so it is no surprise that such destruction has been left in the storm’s path. Our coastline has been completely changed in places. Porthcothan Beach is beautiful and for as long as I can remember has had a wonderful, natural rock formation. This has been completely destroyed in the last week as you can see from these photos.
Also left in its wake is a mass of litter and debris which is threatening our marine life and can also be hazardous to the public. On a recent trip to Wembury beach we spotted a dead animal on the sand, and bags and bags of litter. A friend of mine has been making trips to the beach specifically to help clean up and has removed many bags of rubbish. We are going to do the same thing this weekend and will definitely be going prepared for what I think will be a massive task.
If you would like to help clean up your local beach there are organisations out there that can provide help and advice. Surfers against Sewage organise beach clean ups but will also assist you if you want to organise your own beach clean up with volunteers. Their website has lots of information including safety factsheets and advice on the types of marine litter you may find.
The Marine Conservation Society also organises beach clean ups and you can find a list of their organised events here. You can also become a volunteer with the Marine Conservation Society by becoming an organiser for your local beach.
If you would like to help clean up your local beach, you don’t need to join an organised event. You can just turn up and start work but here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Wear warm clothes and sturdy footwear and ensure you have refreshments to hand.
- Ensure that children are supervised at all times
- Never remove natural debris such as driftwood or seaweed as this provides important habitats for wildlife
- Always wear gloves and in addition to a bag for your litter you may want to carry a sharps box or similar container.
- Report any dead animals or pollutants to the organiser of the beach clean-up, or alternatively to a local life guard who will contact the appropriate organisation.
- If you find litter that can be directly traced to a company or organisation, this should also be reported as above.
- DON’T touch anything that you are not sure about. This includes suspicious containers or dead marine life.
- Most importantly be aware of the tides! Do not risk being cut off or do anything that could endanger your life. Yes, big waves are exciting and dramatic but they are also very dangerous.
Finally take a look at the Western Morning News for some of the latest storm damage images and some pretty terrifying videos!