On Saturday, January 6, environmentalist Andy Dinsdale organised a beach clean along Pett Level with 11 volunteers from local communities, and they collected the detritus of our modern lifestyle which sadly blights our beaches and countryside. He says: “These events are so much more than a beach clean, great socialising too.” This time they picked up 1340 pieces in total, 93% (1250 pieces) plastic, most of it being polystyrene, (old fish boxes) possibly being brought in through the storms and high tides. There were also 30 items of entanglement (fishing line, rope, net, balloon string).
Apart from the danger to sea life, the volunteers were witness to the danger of walking too close to the cliff, on this part of the beach at least. A storey-high section of the overhanging Cliff End Beach at Pett level suddenly collapsed and several tons of rock fell near them. Friend Sandy Spencer told me that Kent Taylor who was walking the beach at the time of collapse and has lived in Pett for 45 years has said that he frequently has to warn visitors to stay away from the base of the cliff because of rockfalls from the top.
Sandy explained that a likely explanation for the sudden collapse is the recent extreme weather events and run-off spill down behind the cliff-face. A subsequent freeze turns the water to ice, the ice expands and pushes the cliff out and down. The only visible warning sign seen was partly obscured by vegetation.
The group saw fulmars (a gull-like sea bird), which roost in the ancient cavity next to the landslide, take off rather quickly, not taking any chances.
[For readers interested in more information on the problems of plastic in our oceans, there are a number of informative websites available. http://mirpurifoundation.org/programs/marine-conservation/ is one, www.cleanseas.org is another. A Google search for Turn the Tide on Plastic will also provide further facts – Editor]
Photos: Andy Dinsdale