Beluga II sailing tour comes to an end

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 27 June 2017

Greenpeace crew finds plastic pollution blights shores and harms wildlife around Scotland A scientific voyage by Greenpeace crew has been researching ocean plastic around Scottish coastlines over the last two months with the support of staff and volunteers from the Marine Conservation Society at key points in the journey.

Marine Litter
© Greenpeace

It’s been fantastic to work directly with the crew on both the East and West coasts of Scotland through our Beachwatch project and our amazing volunteers; especially the school pupils on the Isle of Mull.

Catherine Gemmell,
Scotland Conservation Officer
MCS

Greenpeace crew finds plastic pollution blights shores and harms wildlife around Scotland A scientific voyage by Greenpeace crew has been researching ocean plastic around Scottish coastlines over the last two months with the support of staff and volunteers from the Marine Conservation Society at key points in the journey. Greenpeace’s ship the Beluga II arrives in Edinburgh today, where the crew is presenting its initial findings. The team has found plastic in the feeding grounds of basking sharks, in the habitats of iconic wildlife like puffins, seals and whales, and even in the nests and beaks of seabirds.

Catherine Gemmell, MCS Scotland Conservation Officer says ‘Thanks to the Beluga II team we now have 39 new datasets from beaches that have never been surveyed before, revealing the presence of over 10,000 items of litter on some of them most remote stretches of Scottish coastline. We look forward to analysing the data further with them for their results report due out later this year and will continue to work on our campaigns to stop this litter entering the oceans in the first place.’ Key findings include: ó Beaches strewn with plastic: plastic bottles, bags, packaging and plastic fragments were found on every beach surveyed - more than 30 beaches in remote areas. The surveys will contribute to international databases and were conducted alongside volunteers, pupils from local schools and with support from the Marine Conservation Society. Microplastics in feeding waters: microplastics found in the foraging grounds of basking sharks and seabirds, with over 40 scientific trawls conducted in remote and biodiverse areas home to seals, puffins, whales and other iconic wildlife. Early analysis shows presence of plastic in multiple samples; the full sample-set will be sent for further analysis, with results published later in the year. Plastic pollution in wildlife habitats: plastic bottles, bags and packaging documented in internationally significant seabird colonies, including in nests and even in the beaks of seabirds, in areas such as the Bass Rock, Isle of May and the Shiant Isles. ó Animals entangled in plastic: the crew rescued a gannet at sea which was tangled in rope, fishing gear and bits of plastic. Read a blog from Greenpeace’s Fiona Nicholls. Listen to Catherine Gemmell’s podcast about the journey.

Actions you can take

  1. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2017
  2. Browse Scotland's Marine Atlas
  3. Join a beach clean
  4. Find out more about Scottish Wildlife

Did you know?…

On UK beaches levels of litter have doubled in the past 20 years

Since the carrier bag charge came in across the UK, the Great British Beach Clean has recorded 40% fewer bags on beaches

Litter has increased by 135% since 1994, with plastics increasing by a staggering 180%

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