We have had very strong spring tides, some of the most impressive in years. This with an endless suite of storms are bringing extreme amounts of plastics onto the beach. You can see on the graph that we are having two- to three-folds the rate of pollution than the one of winter 2017.
The situation is clearly getting worse in terms of volumes of plastic coming ashore. We also have noticed a strong increase in the microplastic occurrence on the beach. In particular after storms coming straight from the east American coast. We participated in the great nurdle hunt as we do each years. We usually get about 40 nurdles, we found 230 and had to stop because the weather was particularly hostile. So there is also a lot more nurdles than there used to be. This is unsurprising as the production of virgin plastics keeps on rising exponentially.
An interesting observation are the new measurements we occasionally make on the floating proportion of what we collect on the beach. With strong tides and swell a lot of things are mobilized on the sea bed, uprooting kelp and other things. We have noticed that between 30 and 50% of what we collect could be “sinking” litter, meaning litter which naturally sinks and stays on the seabed. It shows that in place we can recover this pollution as it arrives on the beach. It also suggests that there is a lot of plastic on the sea-bed and that we need to get rid of it. We are hoping to get a ROV filming Balnakeil Bay soon and try to identify the most problematic areas.