Beach Clean on the Copelands

On Friday 27 April volunteers from Ulster Wildlife, the Copeland Bird Observatory and Beach Cleaners Ards and North Down boarded a boat for Lighthouse Island - that's the island without the Lighthouse of course! - to clear the shores of litter before the nesting season got fully underway.

There’s an old saying that you shouldn’t put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear. Used to drive me mad that saying, but I thought about it a lot on the Copelands while I combed the shoreline during the recent beach clean there. Over four hours, I picked up 118 little plastic sticks, the innards of cotton buds. Sad to think of their journey in and out of someone’s ear (or worse), then down a toilet, through our sewers and out into the sea to end up on our shores

Beach clean Copelands group shot 2018

More uplifting to think of the journey that each little Manx shearwater makes every year to return to the Copelands to breed after wintering off the coast of South America. There were 12 other people on the beach clean - Copelands Bird Observatory and Ulster Wildlife volunteers – if everyone picked up a similar number of cotton buds that day, that’s almost 1,500 bits of plastic from cotton buds alone never mind the bottles, pens, caps, chocolate wrappers and even the Monopoly hotel we found. You may not be able to make it out to the Copelands, but you can help by not buying cotton buds!

Our efforts removed 7 bags of litter - mostly plastic - plus some old rope, an old tyre and a half-full barrel of waste engine oil.

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