Day 14 Cullen - A New Ocean Guardian.
Saturday 29th April 2017,
A chilly and windy day saw us arrive at Cullen Beach for day 14. Cullen Bay is a wide and shallow bay, backed by cliffs that run to the southern end where an aqueduct leaps off the clifftops and flies over Cullen Town. The beach itself is a long crescent of sand and pebbles punctured by dramatic serrated fin like rocks.
Sophia McDonald arrived shortly after us, Pete and Sophia had been discussing the clean for some time before, so it was great to put a name to face and equally great to have back-up. Sophia is a true Ocean Guardian dedicated to cleaning Cullen Beach for over 20 years come wind, rain or chill on her own or otherwise, you'll find her cleaning!
It was a privilege to listen to Sophia's stories about the difficulties she has faced in her decades of experience in the Cullen area. Sophia took so much pride in Cullen Beach that she was concerned that it might be the worst we’ve been to and that turnout would be low. In both cases she needn't have worried as Cullen was on of the cleanest we’ve been to thus far and we had an impressive turn out!
However, unfortunately, Sophia did confirm the picture we’ve been building over the last few beach cleans, that there seems to be a detachment of the younger generations to the sea and the marine litter washing up all around.
Just as the three of us, Ellie, Sophia and Pete were settling down to into thinking none else would turn off we had another 5 joined us! We were glad to see Adam Irvine, we met Adam on the train down from Inverness to Edinburgh. A multi-talented entrepreneur and expert in taking innovation in universities to the market mixed with a passion for good whiskeys, Adam still finds time for another great passion of his - the oceans! He promised he’d join us at Cullen when he was on the train and there he was!
Julie with her two sons Maxime (8), Eliot (4) and husband, Thierry joined us after seeing our cleans on facebook. Julie and her family were new to the area and Julie had been keenly looking for a beach clean community and turned to find us on the beach! Since the beach clean Julie says 8 year old Maxime is now asking if he can clean beaches as a job now. The world so definitely needs more Maximes!
So, buoyed by our reinforcements and the appreciation of these fantastic people sparing their time for the beach, we redoubled our efforts. It was a total pleasure to clean with them, so much so Ellie and Sophia lost track of time having a heart to heart ending up in at the Slack Burn River a kilometre to the north, bringing our beach clean to the full 1.5km!
It warmed our hearts on another chilly day when Adam said he now felt inspired to do 5minute beach clean next time he goes to a beach and that we could connect Julie with Sophia in the hope that they more organise many more beach cleans! All of these little nudges to the oil tanker that is society's bad habits; shifts in individuals behaviour accumulate to shift attitudes and paradigms.
However, many did not turn up despite Sophia's best efforts and furthermore there were many visitors that day who did not take the slightest interest in what we were doing.
Summary of Beach Clean
Weight: 15.2 kg (entire 1.5km, not just the 100m beach sample)
These figures are approximate from the Marine Debris Tracker survey. Total Items Counted for 100metres from the high strand line to the back of the beach:
Other/Mixed Items (Cans, Fabric, Flip flops etc): 33%
Plastic Bags: 19%
Plastic or foam fragments: 30%
Plastic Bottles: 16%
Plastic Food Wrappers: 13%
Special thanks to Sophia McDonald, Adam Irvine Julie, Thierry, Maxime, Eliot for all your amazing help!