We had the help of a team of 10 students from SERC Downpatrick to do a much needed beachclean at Kilkeel last Tuesday (16th October). We were tackling the beach that runs between the north of the harbour and Leestone Point which is overlooked by the coastal path and caravan sites popular with tourists. A serious amount of litter was lifted in the space of 2 hours; 38 full binliners plus 2 tyres and a pile of scrap metal, filling not only the trailer but the back of the pickup too. But there is so much more to do.
So this Tuesday (23rd October) we had another team of 19 SERC students back at the same beach. We did a sweep of the area we had done last week and filled another 20 bags (half of last week’s total for the same area) of either new rubbish being washed up or stuff missed last week. The team then went on to push a bit further towards Leestone Point and gathered a further 20 bags. In only an hour and a half with this bigger team we lifted as much as the previous week; 40 bags of general waste plus tyres and scrap metal.
Most of the general waste is plastics washed in on the tide including drinks bottles, plastic bags, gloves and packaging materials. These pose the greatest hazard to wildlife, especially the smaller plastic pieces which, when they are in the water, can resemble the normal prey of seabirds, mammals and fish. Mistaken for food, they are swallowed causing the animals to choke and drown or causing a blockage in the gullet or stomach making them unable to feed and results in them starving to death.
This is a beach in need of help. It is suffering from the twin onslaughts of rubbish being washed ashore and fly tipping from the land. It is one we will continue to focus on for future volunteer efforts.