Picture the scene – crashing waves, beautiful windswept clifftops, the air full of the cries of thousands of nesting seabirds – and pieces of plastic waste scattered all around.
The Greenpeace ship Beluga II is travelling around Scotland on a scientific expedition, to document and expose the threat of plastic pollution on our most iconic wildlife and most remote and biodiverse areas in the UK. And what we’ve seen so far is shocking.
On our journey around this beautiful coastline, the crew have seen plastic floating in the sea, washed up on beaches and even in the beaks of seabirds.
As well as the obvious risks of entanglement, seabirds and other marine life can mistake plastic pieces for food, filling their stomachs until there’s no longer room for the real sustenance they need to survive.
And that’s just the plastic that’s big enough for us to see. The crew on board the Beluga II have been carrying out scientific sampling for microplastics in the water. These tiny bits of plastic can enter the sea as microbeads or are pieces of plastic that have broken down over the years.
Last week, we sailed through Gunna Sound where the crew spotted huge basking sharks. These giant but gentle creatures feed by filtering tiny particles out of huge amounts of water – putting them at risk of eating microplastics.
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The beautiful beaches of these remote islands should be spotless. But whilst plastic continues to flow into our oceans (at a rate of a truck-load every minute), it will continue to find its way to even the most secluded spots.
Our End Ocean Plastics voyage continues for another 3 weeks – next, we’ll be heading to the Shiant Isles, home to a huge seabird colony, where the crew will continue to sample their feeding waters for plastic, and document plastic pollution they find (as well as hopefully spotting lots of puffins!)
With thanks for all you do,
Alice, Aakash and the Oceans team