Kingston Maurward degree level students have completed a beach clean in the name of science. The Marine Ecology & Conservation and Animal Behaviour & Welfare degree level Students cleared refuse from a stretch of beach at Chesil Cove to not only help clean up after recent stormy weather but also to analyse the marine litter they collected as part of European-wide research on marine rubbish.
The data collected was submitted via an app called Marine Litter Watch, and will form part of ongoing research into this continuing problem all across global seas and coasts to record a wide range of categories of litter from bottle tops and food packaging to fishing line and cigarette lighters.
Students were surprised by the amount they collected in only an hour of searching – a total weighing just over 30kilos. The most shocking piece of marine debris was a tangled net which had the remains of 8-10 Pink Sea Fan coral specimens entangled in it, including one which at nearly 20cm would be a mature colony.
The Pink Sea Fan is very prone to disturbance. It can live over 50 years and the specimen could be 25-30 years old.
For the students the beach clean highlighted the extent of exotic wildlife just off the Dorset shores, how easily damaged it can be and the value there is in spending time keeping beaches clean.
Head of Higher Education at Kingston Maurward, Mat Jarvis, said: “These cleans are important, but if everybody could pick up a few piece of litter when they go to the beach, or simply make sure they take their rubbish home with them it would help to stop this problem.
“Plastic is a key polluter in the marine environment – we are only just beginning to understand the long term effects of these substances as they break down on organisms. The oceans are a key part of the global ecosystem and the complete health of our planet – so every little bit we do helps towards saving it.”