Exploring ideas in the Shetland Isles (1)

13.5.15: Arrived Sumburgh Airport

Plastic toy plane found on Shetland beach last week

I flew to the Shetland Isles to explore ideas in person with Sita Goudie of the Shetland Amenity Trust to  discuss ideas of creatively working together  to  deliver a Shetland Littoral Art Project  in the future. I was met by Jane Outram the Trust’s Environmental Awareness Officer who within the first hour introduced me to Angela Hunt manager of Sumburgh Head and gave me a fascinating tour of this  fantastic heritage centre with working ligthouse, bird reserve and arts venue.
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Sumburgh Head Lighthouse has played many important roles saving mariners lives  and through out the war with its temporary radar station.

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The Lighthouse  seemed a pertinent start to our discussions together as we walked passed a chute in the wall down which waste used to be dropped into the sea and then examined a metre high bone from a sperm whale’s head which had washed up nearby tangled in fishing nets. Some patterns of behavior have changed dropping waste directly from lighthouses is illegal in most countries, but its estimated that we dump 6.4 million tonnes of litter into the sea every year.

15.5.15  I was able to join  77 pupil plus teachers from the Scalloway  Primary School for the last 2015 Da Voar Redd Up (Spring Clean up) event organised by the Shetland Amenity Trust (SAT). The S.A.T  have managed to encourage more and more of the communities around Shetland to join in with collecting litter from beaches, roadsides cliff tops all events are catalogued on the Dunna Chuck Bruck Facebook page

Friday’s task was to clean Burwick beach a mile NW from the school. This is the third year that the school as risen to the task and spirits were high as 5-12year old children walked over the hill and down to the beach.

Burwick beach  MS before 2

The beach I took in was as bad as the beach that started me off on this Littoral Journey in 2012

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For me the mounds of  broken down rope fibres 1/2 m deep that almost created a plastic raised beach at the top of the littoral zone was painful to see.  As I  scooped and pulled at the matted fibres to bag it up. I was thinking that this is where rolls of seaweed should have been lying, thoughts especially coupled with the knowledge that hundreds of thousands of organisms will have ingested such fibres the effects of which are still to be understood.


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In total 254 bags of litter were filled and removed from the beach, while  there was still much left to do a significant difference was made.  Well done to everyone who took place especially the youngest members of the team. Millions of reasons to work together to devise creative ideas to help to change our behavior which presently allows this to happen.

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