The peril of plastics

Plastic litter in our oceans © Shutterstock

Here in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight we are in the privileged position of having easy access to miles of gorgeous coastline

Our beaches are home to a great abundance of marine wildlife, from seals to seahorses and rocky reefs to sea grass meadows. For many, this is what makes the south coast such a marvellous place to live.

However, the sparkling waters and shingle beaches that characterise our area and play a vital role in our health and happiness are at great risk. A staggering 8 million metric tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean every year where it chokes, entangles and poisons our precious marine life.

The seabirds that adorn the sky often feed on the ocean surface, and are particularly susceptible to ingesting plastic debris that floats on the water. The indigestible plastic sits in the birds’ stomachs, substantially reducing storage volume. This renders them incapable of eating enough food to survive, so they become malnourished and eventually starve.

Gannet caught in a plastic fishing net off the Isle of Wight coast

© A Williams

The fish that lace our local seas are also ingesting plastic, mistaking it for food. The results of a study by Plymouth University reported that plastic was found in a third of UK-caught fish, including cod, haddock, mackerel and shellfish. It’s enough to put you off your kedgeree, and the implications are disturbing.

If we don’t take action, our throw-away consumer culture will swallow our beloved marine landscapes whole and spit them out mangled and contaminated, a mere shadow of their former glory.

That is why for this year’s National Marine Week, the Wildlife Trusts are asking everyone to make a small change for marine wildlife. Here are a few things that you could do:

Reduce, reuse & recycle

Say no to single use plastics like straws, bottles, bags and cups which could end up in the sea. Choose reusable products instead.

Pick it up

Pick up and bin five pieces of litter every day so they don’t travel downstream and into the sea. Keep it up for a year and you’ll have prevented nearly 2000 pieces of litter from polluting the ocean!

Love the sea
Celebrate our seaside! Take an Atlantic dip, stroll along the shore or take a moment to discover the hidden magic of a rock pool.

Shop smart

Buy eco-friendly detergents and watch out for microbeads.