Having completed a year’s research monitoring beach litter on the west coast of Scotland, I have selected twelve images that I feel summarise my findings along the west coast ‘littoral zone’ . The beaches I have surveyed are Grid- referenced and are located between Loch Broom (NH 133 939) in the south and Loch Inver (NC 094 973) in the north.
Toy Gun Plastic Ullapool
A poignant find that lay washed up along the upper shore of the north east beach of Ullapool. I have found toys on every beach I have surveyed.
Polystyrene Rhue point
A common sight on each of the beaches I have monitored. Often large blocks, boxes or takeaway cups break into individual particles that float and litter the rock pools when broken against rocks. They are subsequently ingested by birds mistaking them for food.
Bottles Plastic Isle Martin
Found on every beach. Along the Back Beach (Camas a Bhuailidh) on Isle Martin the nearest of the Summer Isles in the mouth of Loch Broom, I recovered over 100 bottles which had contained drinks, cleaning fluids, oils etc. All the bottles towed from Isle Martin on World Environment Day were recycled.
Melted Plastic Isle Martin
Hard to see rock-like forms which blend into the cobbles of the Ross-shire beaches. These predominantly grey plastic forms are the result of plastic rubbish that has been burnt on ships/trawlers or on the beach.
Strandline mix Plastic Dun Canna
The strandline of this west-facing beach on Loch Kinnaird is one of the worst I have witnessed . Broken fragments of every type of litter is mixed into the seaweed.
Prawn boxes Badentarbet
Unsurprisingly, in a significant prawn fishing area, broken corrugated plastic prawn boxes are common place on every beach survey .
Rope, cord, line and nets Badentarbet
The highest percentage of litter that I have recorded has been made up of commercial fishing related materials such as ropes and cord: none of these at present can be recycled in the Highlands.
Fibres Plastic Altandu
Close between the cobbles, sand grains or within the seaweed are millions of plastic fibres from deteriorating rope, bags, boxes which could be ingested by birds, fish and sand hoppers. I collected 1/2 litre of fibres from 1m of seaweed along (Camas an Fheidh)
Soldier Plastic Altandu
I found this soldier amongst one of the most severely littered beaches in the area. I intend to enlist him in my Littoral Art Campaign in the coming year
Gun cartridges Loch of Reiff
It was explained to me by two local beach watchers & cleaners in the Reiff area that the opaque splayed tubes that are numerous along beaches in this area are the inner sleeves of gun cartridges. In the water they are often perceived as squid by turtles and porpoise and eaten.
Plastic tubing Loch of Rieff
Evidence of large scale commercial dumping like this mass of plastic tubing is evident on the beaches close to commercial fishing areas. The scale of it takes your breath away
Food containers & implements Loch Inver
On a much smaller scale but equally insidious is the common takeaway litter stuffed/trapped between the strandline rocks of harbour walls
I intend during 2015 – 16 to make artworks to hopefully encourage all of us to keep our seas and littoral zones clean. Please keep reading and supporting this project in any way that you can. Happy New Year