19th September 2015. This weekend was the Marine Conservation Society’s Annual Beachwatch Event so we had a small team out at Kilkeel to complete a survey of the beach on the south side of the harbour. We completed a detailed record of every piece of rubbish found in a 200 metre long sample area of the tidal zone. 558 items were recorded with more than half being plastics. The biggest offenders were plastic pieces, from plastic items which have broken up. These usually present the biggest danger to wildlife; both birds and fish can ingest these, mistaking them for food, and the consequences can be fatal or debilitating. The next biggest culprits were wet wipes with 54 over the 200 metre strip – one to be found for every couple of steps along the beach. These sometimes arise because, although they aren’t supposed to be flushed down the toilet, they still end up in the sewage and sewage plants can’t cope with them.
Our survey data will go to MCS to be compiled into their nationwide report and to be analysed for trends in the data.