Volunteer Divers and Residents Tackle Falmouth Litter

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Diver with her collection bag (Mark Milburn / Atlantic Scuba)

Volunteer conservation organisation Fathoms Free, with the assistance of Falmouth Marine Conservation Group and Falmouth Bay Residents Association, organised a beach and sea clean-up for Saturday,  1 April.

A total of 45 people turned up to the event at Gyllyngvase Beach, some travelling from Bournemouth and Penzance to attend.

Ten diving volunteers braved the conditions to get in the water and assist, even though weather conditions during the week had been ‘quite awful’, according to Mark Milburn of Atlantic Scuba, who organised the diving and had been monitoring the situation.

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Intrepid volunteer divers (Dave Perry / Fathoms Free)

Although it was decided not to dive at other nearby beaches as they were judged to be unsuitable or unsafe, conditions at Gyllyngvase Beach improved sufficiently that at around 10.30am, the dive teams entered the water armed with at least one collection bag, in water that varied between 2-5m visibility.

Aided by funding from the Tesco 5p bag charge, Fathoms Free were able to provide volunteers with new equipment to assist with the cleanup, including heavy duty aluminium litter pickers (and bag hoops), recycled transparent refuse bags, washable gloves and first aid kits.

Underwater, parts of the kelp-covered reef were the worst in terms of rubbish, and as the divers hunted around they found an array of items including traffic cones, a car tyre, balls, parts of glass bottle, a diver's mask, dozens of pieces of plastic and tin cans, a sugar server, gloves, footwear and even a piece of Bakelite, later identified  as part of a lead acid battery casing from one of the several German WWI U-Boat wrecks in the area.

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Diver exiting the sea with a traffic cone (Dave Perry / Fathoms Free)

The divers all returned safely with their haul of litter, which was then sorted out on the beach along with the many bags of litter collected from along the sea front by the non-diving volunteers.

In total, 16 bags of debris were collected, with Dave Perry of Fathoms Free commenting on his blog: ‘It was great to realise that the beaches in Falmouth are very clean in comparison to other areas, but it was still a worthwhile clean, with nearly half the debris collected going to the Flotsam & Jetsam Project to be recycled into pieces of art to raise awareness’

falmouth cleanup litter1000Some of the litter hauled from the sea (Dave Perry / Fathoms Free)

Mark Milburn said ‘I am quite pleased that we found so little, we do remove litter every time we dive, this proves that we are keeping it at bay’. He also said ‘it is a global problem but it would be nice if less rubbish ended up in the sea.’

If you’d like to get involved in any of the future events in Cornwall, contact Fathoms Free via their website at fathomsfree.org.




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