Day 10 Calgary Bay - The plastic time bomb.

Saturday 15th April 2017

We arrived late on Friday night at The Killiechronan Estate, our base on the Isle of Mull for the next couple of days.  Where immediately Fiona, the manager, welcomed us into her house and offered us plenty of tea and plugs to charge our drones and devices. 

The breathtaking wildness of the scenery was only matched by the weather of our first night on the Isle of Mull, changing from moment to moment.  However, by nightfall a biting chill descended and a penetrating wind blew up, hurling rain at us like lances of ice.  Then a moment later, an black vault would open up above our heads, hung with a thousand bright stars and a single glowing silver orb, gazing at its own brilliant dancing reflections on the Loch – all framed by the big white band of the Milky Way.  We managed to survive the night, only just, awaking to an overcast morning with the chill wind still biting.

Calgary beach is a magnificent crescent beach with high bluffs and two streams at either end,  gradual green slopes lead down from the Calgary Arts Centre, our meeting point, to the gold sandy beach.

The gentle green slopes down to the spectacular Calgary Bay

The gentle green slopes down to the spectacular Calgary Bay

We arrived just before lunchtime right when there was a surge of beach goers likely having an after lunch beach stroll.  So to minimise the risk to the public we decided to move the survey location to the further and quieter end of the beach.

The breeze had followed us to Calgary as had the changeable weather.  The ice lances made a dreaded return mid-survey whilst Ellie followed the near-perfect crescent of the high tide line –a challenge she enjoyed very much.  The challenge presented by the weather, however, we both appreciated but did not enjoy to the same degree!   We were both red-raw with exposure after!

Janie busy preparing the kit for the Marine Conservatoin Society survey

Janie busy preparing the kit for the Marine Conservatoin Society survey

Battling the elements, Ellie was suddenly forced to abort the flight!  Another drone user took off from the beach close to Ellie without prior warning and in disregard of Articles 94 and 95 of the Air Navigation Order 2016.  In otherwords,  flying too close to other members of the public without due consideration of their safety, we later found he had no permission from the landowner (Argyle & Bute Council) and no permission from the CAA.  As such Ellie was forced to cut short her filming, for which we’d gone great lengths to secure permission for and at considerable cost to The Plastic Tide charity.  

Dogs pick-up beach litter and bring it to owner as a toy.  We heard of dogs that have died eating marine and plastic litter on beaches at Gwithian.

Dogs pick-up beach litter and bring it to owner as a toy.  We heard of dogs that have died eating marine and plastic litter on beaches at Gwithian.

Whilst we believe it is important for people to enjoy the use of their drones, this must be balanced against the need to follow regulations stipulated by the CAA.  This is mainly to ensure the public’s protection and to ensure the pilots are protected from legal action.  The Plastic Tide complies with CAA regulations because we believe in setting an example for Drone use to others and the public.  This also reduces accidents and means that insurance premiums do not ‘lift off’ for all other drone users.

Meanwhile, Peter met with Janie Steele and her mother, Cathy, a couple of committed Ocean Guardians – both catching the ferry from Oban to join us! Janie works freelance and with The GRAB Trust on education outreach programs with children on marine litter and the environment.  Cathy, just being the best and most energetic beach cleaner we’ve seen yet!  Letting her loose on a beach is like witnessing a wolf among litter lambs – the rubbish was being hunted down systematically!

Janie’s research background is in how different plastics can host human diseases, acting as a transporter of these diseases across seas and to sea creatures – especially mammals due their similar physiology to us. A hugely important area of study as many sea creatures will not have the same immunity that we have to our diseases.  In the 'right' conditions these diseases could have a devastating impacts on populations of these precious animals.

Janie finding uncut beer can rings.

Janie finding uncut beer can rings.

This is what happens to the same beer can rings that are not cut (Credit: Stefan Leijon)

This is what happens to the same beer can rings that are not cut (Credit: Stefan Leijon)

However, Janie’s focus for the last 15 years had been in educating children on the threats of plastic and organising beach cleans.  Janie shared a valuable insight from her years of experience in engaging schools and children; the importance of consistently engaging children in a positive way on plastics and marine litter.  But Janie highlighted the complete lack of this vital issue on the National Curriculum as a hurdle to achieving this engagement.

It is astonishing such a vital issue that will have a significant effect on our children's future is not taught in school.  It is almost as though we've discovered a time bomb under their futures and not only are we not telling them about it, we are not giving them the skills to defuse it!

The need for this became clear when a couple of 5 year olds came over to Janie and Pete with their parents curious about what we were doing.  After a quick chat explanation, we couldn't stop them help us to save the dolphins and the turtles.  Shortly after we had another couple of beach goers help us on their Sunday stroll - this was so great to see and it warmed our hearts as we were battered by the biting wind, 

This is tomorrow’s generation asking us what course to steer…

 P.s. If any of you find a fluorescent yellow flag, please return to the care of Janie Steele!  

Summary of Results

Watch this space, results being counted!