I’m at sea aboard Pelican of London with 23 young sailors who share my interest in science and technology.
Our STEM at SEA program got us to work at Newcastle beach in Northern Ireland yesterday, and although we all got wet landing in shallow water and wading through the surf, we soon got to work.
A sweep of the beach found half a bin bag of assorted litter: a soap dispenser, some shotgun cartridges, face masks, wet wipes, fishing line and gear, plastic fragments and bottles, sweet wrappers and drinks cans.
After that, a more detailed transect of quadrats along a 100 m line perpendicular to the shore showed just how clean the beach was: we found hardly any microplastic pollution. Just a handful of plastic fragments and filaments were found.
The effort of our young crew were rewarded by kind local shop keepers with some free drinks and snacks.
A discussion about consumer choices and the sustainability of long-lived products rounded off the morning’s activities.