UK Coast Journey
Information, things and stuff
BEACH CLEANS AND SEAWEED SURVEYS
“It is not enough to be compassionate – you must act.”
The Dalai Lama
One of the main points of this walk is to give back to the places I pass through, as much as I can.
I also want to meet people, otherwise it will be a very lonely walk.
Now, as I am sure nobody really needs reminding of at the moment (of the fact that we have all been deprived of community and socializing in the past year) I want to find ways to get people together again.
Preferably in large-ish groups, with an emphasis of taking on and sharing a common task of some description, whilst passing on knowledge, stories, and having a laugh in the process.
I miss that infectious energy that vibrates and moves amongst enthusiastic people.
Anyway, for these reasons, I am hoping to be getting together with some groups on the way round to do some beach cleans, and any other volunteering activities.
Anyone is welcome to join, especially when restrictions ease up enough.
There are beach cleans out there that are open for everybody and anybody to join in with, organised by local groups, as well as organisations like the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage.
I've seen and I often hear a lot about how people are surprised at how much fun they had doing things like this; they are much more rewarding than they appear on the surface.
I can honestly say that the act of giving really does have a mysterious habit of giving back to you somehow!
The more people who can join in with these clean-ups, the better.
You don't have to have done it before, and it's free to do.
For more information, please visit the link at the bottom.
I am also welcoming anyone who wishes to accompany me on the journey, meet up with me or show me some parts of the coast and places they know about.
Even if you just want an excuse to walk along the beach and chat with someone, I am more than happy with that; I will probably be glad for the company!
Just send me an email and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
I will be posting updates and adding more information as time goes on to this website, including where I am and potentially when I will be reaching certain locations.
The seaweed surveys are also free and open for anybody to do.
They are a wonderful way of exploring deeper into the coastal environment, you never know what you might find! Or where you might end up for that matter...
You do not need any prior knowledge to start one, I certainly embarked on this journey with almost no experience in marine and coastal environments, but you will need an identification sheet that can be downloaded easily on the Big Seaweed Search website, as well as appropriate clothing and a tide table.
It is definitely worth having a try, even just for your own curiousity.
Each seaweed survey is an important piece of the puzzle to mapping the UK's coastal waters and gives us a greater idea of what's happening with our marine ecosystems in terms of ocean warming, acidification, and invasive species.
A phenomenal material
Since 1907, plastic has been having a huge impact on the world.
Without a doubt, its effects have been positive in many ways.
It has enabled us to do many more things and continues to provide people with things such as safety products and medical items, as well as various tools, equipment, clothing, living essentials, and, of course, toys.
Things in plastic are, generally speaking, cheap, yet strong, flexible and extremely weather-resistant, adaptable, and quick to produce or replace.
In fact, the vast majority of plastic items I happen to have with me will easily outlive me, many times over.
“Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy and habitable by all species”
Sir David Attenborough
The trouble with plastic is what happens when it breaks down, into small, tiny, and minuscule fragments; some that you simply cannot see.
These are ingested by most, if not all sea creatures.
Studies have shown that the average human now contains a small percentage of microplastic floating around in their body. This percentage is only going to increase with time if we continue in this manner.
Here are a few eye-opening facts on this subject...
300 Million tons of plastic gets created yearly, and this weighs the same as the entire human population, and 50% is single-use only.
An estimated 8 Million tons of plastic enters our oceans every year. There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste estimated to be in our oceans. 269,000 tons float, 4 billion microfibers per km² dwell below the surface.
70% of our debris sinks into the ocean's ecosystem, 15% floats, and 15% lands on our beaches.
In the past 10 years, we’ve made more plastic than the last century. By 2050, the population of fish will be outnumbered by our dumped plastics.
In various studies, plastics made up 60-90% of the marine pollution found.
Ocean crusaders estimate there to be 46,000 plastic pieces in our waters per mile (squared).
As plastic decomposes over 100’s of years, it breaks into micro pieces and can spread all over the planet.
Other than incinerated plastics, the entire volume we ever created is still on our planet in some form.
We cannot continue generating plastics, and trashing them, at the current rate.
Our practices need to change dramatically, to not just recycling, but to a circular economy, that makes use of the long life span and multi-functionality that plastics seem to have.
For more information on what a circular economy is and how it works in practice, please check out the link below for the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, which illustrates it much better than I can!
So, what's the point?
“The future for low-lying coastal communities looks extremely bleak… But the consequences will be felt by all of us. There is plenty to be concerned about for the future of humanity and social order”
Professor Jonathon Bamber
For some time now, perhaps 50 years or so, there has been an influx of compelling, and undeniable evidence that human progress is heating up the planet much faster than we, or any other creatures, can evolve with, or adapt to.
We are effectively burning, and poisoning the world we live in.
This is very sad.
It is a sad fact for everyone alive today, but in particular for those who are just taking their first steps in the world, and even more so for those who are yet to be born.
A lot of young people I know are afraid of growing up, growing old, and even having children.
They will come to witness the extinction of many more species, more each year.
“The shock for us was that tidal flooding could become the new normal in the next 15 years; we didn’t think it would be so soon… If you live on a coast and haven’t seen coastal flooding yet, just give it a few years. You will.”
Dr. Melanie Fitzpatrick
There will be more extreme weather events; more storms, droughts, wildfires, and floods.
The ocean is now so full of pollutants that it has actually become dangerous to eat certain types of fish.
The intensive farming, of both crops and animals, that has provided us with much more food than we really needed for the last 70 years, is continuing to cleanse the world of its wild places. Soon, the soils that are being used and abused so heavily, that we rely on so much, are to be depleted of all life and nutrients; they will not be able to grow anything anymore.
We cannot carry on like this.
Governments and corporations generally don't seem to want to tackle the wicked problems that we are confronted with today. They choose to ignore it or pass on responsibility to the next generation. Soon, it may already be too late.
The latest figures suggest that we have less than 30 years to make dramatic changes to our carbon output, and bring it close to zero; and in the next 10 years we need to cut global carbon output by half.
There is still time to make these changes.
But this is only possible if ALL of us start to make the changes that are necessary.
The ocean has been shown to have the greatest potential to recover rapidly; if we allow it to.
I believe this is a good place to start.