Marine Clean in Memory of a Humpback Whale

On Sunday 16th June, I took part in Marine Clean 2019 organised by a good friend of mine, who volunteers with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR). 

The inspiration

The clean was done in memory of a Humpback Whale who was spotted earlier this year in the Firth of Forth dragging a buoy along behind it. 

Despite the best efforts of shore watchers and the BDMLR, another sighting of the entangled whale didn’t materialise.  Sadly, it was discovered washed up on a beach near Dunbar several weeks later. Read the story on BBC Scotland: ‘Drowned’ whale washes up on beach in East Lothian.

A few weeks ago another entangled Humpback washed up dead in Caithness; read the story: Whale washed up in Caithness tangled in Canadian fishing gear.

humpback whale
A humpback whale. Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

Clean-up action

We wouldn’t be able to rid the sea of all litter, but clearing a little is better than none. A clean-up was organised for the Fife and Lothian coasts of the Forth. 

Our Marine Clean team negotiating tricky terrain, litter pickers in hand

In Buckhaven, Fife, our team of four clambered over large rocks armed with litterpickers, getting drenched by heavy (summer?!) showers in the process.

We didn’t let the rain dampen our mission: to collect as much litter as we could. 

There were creels, countless plastic bottles, polystyrene, plastic cabling, plastic pipes, rubber, wrappers, rope, a toy tractor (the front wheels of which we found on a separate part of the beach), to name a few.

The recovered plastic toy tractor

There were many items wedged in the rocks unable to be recovered. 

Creel wedged in the rocks
View of the Forth, with some of our collection

All of these items were collected from a stretch of the coast approximately 100m in length.  It wasn’t the easiest of terrains to beach clean as you can see from the photo. 

Other beach cleans on both sides of the Forth collected a good haul too. It’s sad that there is still so much rubbish floating around out there, and it will continue to get washed up. At least the items everyone managed to clear are no longer on the shore.

It was a tiring few hours, but much was achieved. A large bag full of plastic bottles will now be recycled. Fife Coast and Countryside Trust gave us a hand and took away other recyclable plastics.

A selection of the items collected
Removing fishing gear that had washed up along the coast

More information on the Marine Clean

For more information and photos showing the various clean-ups, please visit the Marine Clean Facebook Page.

If you’re inspired, as I was, by the sad story of White Fluke the Humpback Whale, why not try and do your own coastal clean-up?  Even just a few items lifted and safely binned are a few less to endanger the wildlife.

In memory of White Fluke
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