Saturday, 31 January 2015

Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch Survey

One of my goals for this year is to gain as much conservation-related volunteer experience as I can. I want to expand my skills in all areas, including practical/field and academic, so that I can build a solid foundation for a career in conservation. One of the possibilities I looked at was volunteering for beach clean-ups in my local area, as a means of doing something vitally important for a good cause. During my online travels, I came across the Marine Conservation Society which is a charity based in the UK working towards the protection of our seas, shores and the wildlife that lives there.
The tide of litter washing up on our shores is not just unpleasant to look at, it can harm and even kill some of our best-loved marine wildlife. Over 170 species including seabirds, turtles and whales have mistaken marine litter for food and actually eaten it, which in many cases has resulted in starvation, poisoning and ultimately a slow, painful death. Plastic packaging and discarded fishing nets also injure, entangle and drown some of Britain’s favourite marine animals, including seals and dolphins.”

They operate a programme entirely run by volunteers called the Beachwatch Survey that runs all over the country. The goal for each survey is to comb a 100m stretch of beach, record and collect each piece of litter found within that space and then send off the data to the MCS, who use it for analysis of the state of our beaches among other vital work. For my local beaches, there were no upcoming events scheduled when I looked, so I decided to register as an organiser and arrange my own clean-up. I'm quite excited as I've never taken part in a beach clean-up before, let alone organised one, and I am looking forward to the challenge of coordinating an event like this, thereby expanding my organisational skills and working towards a worthy cause (one of a great many that rely on volunteers). It's also a brilliant way to get some fresh, sea air after being stuck inside all Winter!
After liaising with Adur and Worthing Council and gaining permission to carry out an event, I have officially scheduled my first Beachwatch for Sunday 8th March. I'm holding it on Goring-by-Sea beach in Worthing, which is a beach I know reasonably well and is my nearest coastal area from where I am in Horsham. I am hoping to get a decent amount of volunteers to take part in the event so will be working hard to get the word out and about!

If you are in the West Sussex area and you're interested in taking part in this survey, you can find the event details here where you can register as a volunteer. It would be great to see as many people as possible helping out and enjoying a bit of fresh, sea air!

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