Our beaches are drowning in a sea of plastic
26 March 2010
Piles of plastic rubbish, ranging from thousands of drinks bottles and carrier bags to a joke severed finger and a set of vampire teeth, have been collected in the latest annual survey of beach litter from the Marine Conservation Society.
Thousands of volunteers from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) picked up 2,742 bags of litter from 400 beaches. On average some 1,849 items of litter were found for every 0.6 miles (1km) of beach.
The results showed litter levels along the coasts have increased dramatically since 1994, from 1,000 items per kilometre to over 1,800 items. It also found that plastic litter was at its highest level ever.
The most common type of litter was small plastic pellets, broken down from larger items. Other items in the top 10 include food wrappers, cigarette butts, plastic drinks bottles, chunks of polystyrene and cotton bud sticks, of which nearly 13,000 were found.
Stranger items collected included a laboratory incubator, a message in a bottle from "Sly Sally", half a boomerang, a joke severed finger and a set of vampire teeth.
The report warns that coastal communities are bearing the brunt of the rising tide of litter, which can harm tourism, fishing and water sports. Marine animals are also at risk - thousands of birds, turtles, fish, and marine mammals are thought to die each year by eating or becoming tangled in litter.
MCS litter projects officer Rachel Bailey said: ”Our seas and beaches are becoming overwhelmed with plastic litter, which not only looks horrible, but kills and injures many of our fantastic marine animals every year.
“Over 260 species of marine wildlife become entangled in litter or mistake it for food”
Fiona Ashurst from Keep Britain Tidy said: "People need to take responsibility for their rubbish.
"Our country has a beautiful coastline with award-winning beaches and we need to work together in ensuring that we keep it litter-free for everyone to enjoy. Dispose of your rubbish responsibly, use a bin or take your litter home with you."