Author: Beth

Marine Memories Map LAUNCH!

The Living Seas Wales Team are excited to share our brand-new Marine Memories Map with you all!

Throughout the Living Seas Wales Project, our wonderful team of volunteers and staff have been speaking with you, the public, to record your memories of the marine environment. With over 200 incredible stories shared, we knew we had to come up with an exciting way to showcase this part of the Project.

We had initially discussed setting up a travelling exhibition, with the thought of touring Wales with your tales from the deep. However, COVID-19 swiftly put a stop to our plans before they could be fully realized. Undeterred, our team were determined to find a way to showcase your seaside stories to the world. Today, we are presenting our brand-new Marine Memories Map!

Click on the image below to explore further, or alternatively click here!

The BRAND NEW Living Seas Wales Marine Memories Map © Living Seas Wales

The interactive map allows you to delve deeper into our memory collection database, with records dating back as far as 1748! There’s Dive Logs aplenty, unusual sightings, and stories of a life nearly forgotten on our wild Welsh coast.

A huge thank you to each and everyone of you who has been in touch with our Team since 2018! Your memories are truly what has made all of this possible!

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle…

Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s a tune we’re all familiar with, and a message that has been clear since the 1970’s…Or has it? Recycling can sometimes seem overwhelming, with packaging covered in seemingly endless symbols, with different meanings in different places.

Our Living Seas Team would like to help clear things up! Below is a guide to the more commonly found recycling symbols, explaining what it is that they mean, and how to sort your waste with ease.

Living Seas Wales handy recycling guide © Living Seas Wales

So, what do all the symbols mean?!

Mobius Loop

The Mobius Loop – a familiar symbol: three arrows arranged in a triangular shape, facing clockwise. This symbol means that an item can be recycled! It does not mean that the product itself is made from recycled materials, however sometimes a % symbol is present alongside the Mobius Loop to indicate this.


Plastic Resin Symbols

Plastic Resin Codes – again, a familiar symbol: three arrows arranged in a triangular shape, facing clockwise, but this time with a number in the middle. This symbol is only found on plastic products, and appropriate disposal depends on the number:

  • 1 – 2: Generally, easily recycled.
  • 3 – 4: Can usually be recycled, although it can vary depending on locality. We would recommend checking with your local council before disposing of these products.
  • 5 – 7: Cannot be recycled easily yet.

Widely Recycled

Widely Recycled – a green arrow rotating clockwise. In this case the product is generally recyclable, by over 75% of local authorities in the UK. Sometimes this symbol will include additional wording/instructions, for example “rinse”. These instructions should be followed, as it helps recycling centres to protect from contamination and reduce the risk of attracting unwanted guests to recycling facilities!


Check Locally

Check Locally – a black/white arrow rotating clockwise. In this case the product can only be recycled by between 20% – 75% of local authorities in the UK. This means that it is worth checking that the item is collected in your area before you place the product in the recycle bin!

You can use the Wales Recycles website to find out more about which products can be appropriately disposed of by your local council. Simply select “recycling at home” and enter your postcode to learn more.


The Green Dot

The Green Dot – a symbol composed of two interlacing arrows (usually green) in a circle. This symbol is a little bit tricky and is not quite what it seems…the Green Dot means that the manufacturer has made a financial contribution to recycling services in Europe…it does not mean that the product is recyclable.


Recyclable Aluminium

Recyclable aluminium – two arrows, rotating clockwise, with “alu” in the centre. This symbol means that the product is made of recyclable aluminium. Ensure that the product has been cleaned fully, and, in most cases, you can place it in the recycling!


Recyclable Steel

Recyclable steel – A magnet attracting a steel can. This symbol indicates that the product is made of steel. All local authorities will collect steel cans and recycle them!


Glass

Glass – Three arrows arranged in a triangular shape, facing clockwise, with a stick person in the centre, placing a bottle in a bin. This symbol asks you to recycle the glass product. Glass can be appropriately disposed of at a bottle bank, or through kerbside collection – if your local council offers this. Glass recycling can seem a little complicated, as not all glass types can be recycled. A lot of this relates to the colour of the glass, and subsequent melting temperature.


Tidyman

Tidyman – A stick person, disposing of waste in a bin. Fairly familiar to most, the Tidyman symbol originates from Keep Britain Tidy. It simply acts as a reminder to dispose of your waste appropriately. It does not necessarily mean that the product is recyclable.


Compostable

Compostable – a fancy number six, with sprouting leaves. Products, including plastics, bearing this symbol are compostable. This means they should not be put in your normal recycling. Instead, place them in your food or garden waste bin.


Forest Stewardship Council

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – A tick which morphs into a deciduous tree. The FSC logo can be found on wood-based products from well managed forests – independently certified in line with the FSC’s rules. Wood and timber are generally not accepted in your household recycling, however, can be taken to local waste recycling facilities.


Happy recycling!

Living Seas Wales LIVE!

Lights, Camera, Action…On Saturday the 23rd of January, Living Seas Wales went LIVE, with a one-off broadcast celebrating our wonderful Welsh coastline!

Alongside TV wildlife presenter Lizzie Daly, our Living Seas Wales Team braved the freezing wind – with snow in the forecast! – to explore the wonders of rockpools, spot for dolphins on the Cardigan Bay Dolphin Watch webcam, and much much more! If you missed the action on the day, you can catch up here on our YouTube channel.

Dr Sarah Perry coming to you LIVE from inside Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre.
Dr Sarah Perry LIVE from CBMWC © Laura Evans / CBMWC

Since the Living Seas Wales Project began in 2018, alongside our wonderful volunteers, we have been able to engage over 18,000 individuals with our magnificent marine environment – from roadshows (all 42 of them!), beach cleans, and marine-mammal surveys; all the way to our, somewhat unprecedented, online events and training sessions!

All of this, of course, would not have been possible without the most important members of the Team – our volunteers. Over the last 3 years this incredible group have contributed over 13,500 hours of their time to the Living Seas Wales Project. They truly are amazing!

A collage of the Living Seas Wales Volunteers.
Our incredible Living Seas Wales Volunteers © Living Seas Wales

Unable to celebrate the end of the Living Seas Wales Project as we had hoped – together – the Team knew we needed to find an alternative. What better way to go out with a splash than to draw on the experience of WTSWW’s wonderful #SkomerLIVE Crew and bring the joys of the ocean to your living room?!

Living Seas Wales LIVE! proved to be a huge success, with in excess of 3.5k views (and counting!) in the first week alone! Remember, you can catch up on all the fun using the following link to our YouTube channel!

A sunset view of New Quay harbour from the CBMWC Dolphin Watch Webcam.
CBMWC Dolphin Watch Live Webcam © CBMWC

To learn more about the Living Seas Wales Project, you can visit the brand-new website. Other useful links:

Special thanks to: Lizzie Daly, Fabian Harrison, Gina Gavigan, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, People’s Postcode Lottery, and People’s Collection Wales.

Learn how to make Ocean Origami!

Are you still looking for ways to use up your leftover wrapping paper? Why not try out one of our Ocean Origami sessions!?

What will I need?

  • 1 x Square piece of paper/card.
  • 1 x Pen/Pencil.
  • 1 x Scissors (Turtle only).

Shore Crab

Learn how to make an Origami Shore Crab! © Living Seas Wales

You can learn how to make an origami shore crab with our Living Seas Engagement Officer, Beth. Whilst most shore crabs you may find hiding amongst the rockpool are green (ish!), your design could be any colour you like: blue, pink, even rainbow coloured!

You can watch our easy to follow video by clicking on the link here, or by clicking on the photo above.


Sea Turtle

 

Learn how to make an Origami Sea Turtle! © Living Seas Wales

You can learn how to make an origami sea turtle with our Living Seas Engagement Officer, Beth. Sea turtles are generally a summer visitor to our shoreline, but this origami one will feel more than at home with you in January!

You can watch our easy to follow video by clicking on the link here, or by clicking on the photo above.

⚠️ Caution: at one point in this craft session you will need to use scissors. Please ensure you ask an adult for help! ⚠️

Did you know that the largest leatherback turtle ever recorded washed up on a beach right here in Wales?! You can learn more about the Harlech Leatherback here.


Blue Whale

Learn how to make an Origami Blue Whale! © Living Seas Wales

You can learn how to make an origami blue whale with our Living Seas Engagement Officer, Beth. With the largest ever recorded blue whale reaching the incredible size of 33.58m, it’s not often you can fit a blue whale in your pocket – luckily you won’t have that problem this time round!

You can watch our easy to follow video by clicking on the link here, or by clicking on the photo above.


Sea Turtle Christmas Decoration © Beth Thompson / WTSWW

What next?

Send us your photos!

You can share your masterpieces with us, and even get them featured in our up-and-coming origami artwork gallery! Simply take a photo of your finished origami, and send it to livingseas@welshwildlife.org. Alternatively, you can contact us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Christmas 2021

If we even dare to mention the “C-Word” this early in the year…just imagine how lovely your origami would look, hanging from a piece of string surrounded by twinkling lights, on your Christmas tree next year!

Ask your Grandparents for their Marine Memories

This November, our Living Seas Wales Team need you to help us to help our seas! We are asking you to ask your Grandparents for their memories of marine wildlife and the marine environment, from around the Welsh coastline.

Leatherback turtle © Mike Alexander

You may have previously heard about our Marine Memories Project. We have written of its importance in several news articles (here and here) before now. But this is our final push to hear from you!

So, what are we looking for?

We are looking for stories that you, your parents, your grandparents, your cousins, your neighbours… (we could go on!) recall from your time on, or around, the Welsh coast. We’re particularly interested to hear about:

  • Marine megafauna – Did you know that orca are occasionally seen in Welsh waters?! Or that the largest leatherback turtle ever recorded washed up on a beach at Harlech, Gwynedd?! There is so much that we have yet to explore when it comes to the world beneath the waves, and because of that we’re interested in hearing your stories of marine megafauna: be that a sighting of a shark from your childhood, or a glimpse of a gannet feeding frenzy off the coast.
  • Working on the Boat © Peter Williams

    Fisheries – There was a time where fish were caught in such abundance that fishing boats wouldbe full to the gunnels, and your careful balance could be the difference between the boat capsizing or remaining upright! But times, and fish, change. We’re keen to hear if you, or your family, were involved in fishing – what you caught, and when!

  • Archives – Our searches through old books and newspaper clippings have revealed how, less than 150 years ago, sharks were described as “voracious monsters of the deep”, whales were thought to be “amphibious”, and porpoises were thought to have “Kings”. Perhaps you recall reading something similar, and filing the papers away in the loft? We’d love to bring these stories back out of the depths.

 

How can you get involved?

Newspaper clipping, 1914 © Herald of Wales and Monmouthshire Recorder / National Library of Wales

If you, or perhaps your Grandparents, have stories to share. We’d ask you to do the following:

      1. Write down your memories OR record yourself speaking about them on a phone.
      2. Find out your old photo albums and select a photo from the time (If you don’t have any, please feel free to skip this step!).
      3. Upload your story, and photos here – https://livingseas.wales/share-your-sea-stories-with-us/submit-your-sea-story/.
      4. Smile and sit down with a well-earned cuppa/biscuit! Know you are helping us to learn more about our seas, and to protect them into the future.

We really cannot do this without you.

To view our current collection – which includes more photos and memories than we could possibly fit into one news article! – please visit the Memory Collection page on our website, or the People’s Collection Wales website.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate in contacting our Living Seas Engagement Officer on livingseas@welshwildlife.org.

Thank you!

Main Image © Kevin Hawke / Living Seas Wales

What is World Habitat Day?

World Habitat Day is celebrated annually on the first Monday of October, which means this year it falls on the 5th! Designated in 1985 by the United Nations, the idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and the basic right of all to adequate shelter. In essence, National Habitat Day focusses on the human habitat. But there are, of course, many different types of habitat, which are important for many different types of species. That is what we will be exploring today.

What is a habitat? © Beth Thompson

What is a Habitat?

A habitat is the natural environment in which a species is able to find food, shelter, protection and mates.

How big is a Habitat?

The amount of space that an organism needs varied greatly from species-to-species. A barnacle, for example, is a sessile species, and as such can need less than a square centimetre to survive. However, compare this to a humpback whale, who will travel hundreds of thousands of miles on their annual migration to feed and reproduce, this habitat is significantly larger.

How do we (humans) effect habitats?

Negative

If we change the physical or biological features of a natural environment, a habitat can become ill-suited for a species.

Guillemot with fish © Dr Sarah Perry

Overfishing and dredging, for example, can make a habitat no longer suitable for a marine species. Overfishing can reduce the amount of food available for fish-eating species, including marine mammals. While dredging can destroy important structural components of the ocean floor (i.e. coral reefs and similar) which act as shelter for many species.

Positive

However, that is not to say that the impact we have on habitats is always negative. We can also make artificial habitats and work to regenerate habitats that have previously been degraded or destroyed.

Here in Wales, seagrass meadows, a key habitat for many species including seahorse and pipefish, are being restored in Pembrokeshire by Swansea University, WWF and Sky Ocean Rescue. As well as providing a key habitat for a variety of species, these meadows are thought to absorb carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests!

You can learn more about seagrass meadows in our recent e-news here!

Seagrass © Paul Naylor | http://www.marinephoto.co.uk/

While internationally there are efforts to build artificial reefs which mimic some of the characteristics of natural reefs, and provide a structure to enhance the habitat for a variety of reef species. These artificial reefs vary in material from rocks, cinder blocks and old tyres, all the way to purposefully submerged ship wrecks!

Main Image: Strumble Head,

Recycling Symbols Explained

Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s a tune we’re all familiar with, and a message that has been clear since the 1970’s…Or has it? Recycling can sometimes seem overwhelming, with packaging covered in seemingly endless symbols, with different meanings in different places.

As part of Autumn Clean Cymru 2020, our Living Seas Team would like to help clear things up! Below is a guide to the more commonly found recycling symbols, explaining what it is that they mean, and how to sort your waste with ease.

Symbols

The Mobius Loop symbol

The Mobius Loop – a familiar symbol: three arrows arranged in a triangular shape, facing clockwise. This symbol means that an item can be recycled! It does not mean that the product itself is made from recycled materials, however sometimes a % symbol is present alongside the Mobius Loop to indicate this.

The Plastic Resin Codes 1-7 symbols

Plastic Resin Codes – again, a familiar symbol: three arrows arranged in a triangular shape, facing clockwise, but this time with a number in the middle. This symbol is only found on plastic products, and appropriate disposal depends on the number:
• 1 – 2: Generally, easily recycled.
• 3 – 4: Can usually be recycled, although it can vary depending on locality. We would recommend checking with your local council before disposing of these products.
• 5 – 7: Cannot be recycled easily yet.

Widely Recycled symbol

Widely Recycled – a green arrow rotating clockwise. In this case the product is generally recyclable, by over 75% of local authorities in the UK. Sometimes this symbol will include additional wording/instructions, for example “rinse”. These instructions should be followed, as it helps recycling centres to protect from contamination and reduce the risk of attracting unwanted guests to recycling facilities!

Check Locally symbol

Check Locally – a black/white arrow rotating clockwise. In this case the product can only be recycled by between 20% – 75% of local authorities in the UK. This means that it is worth checking that the item is collected in your area before you place the product in the recycle bin!

The Green Dot symbol

The Green Dot – a symbol composed of two interlacing arrows (usually green) in a circle. This symbol is a little bit tricky and is not quite what it seems…the Green Dot means that the manufacturer has made a financial contribution to recycling services in Europe…it does not mean that the product is recyclable.

Recyclable Aluminium symbol

Recyclable aluminium – two arrows, rotating clockwise, with “alu” in the centre. This symbol means that the product is made of recyclable aluminium. Ensure that the product has been cleaned fully, and, in most cases, you can place it in the recycling!

Recyclable Steel symbol

Recyclable steel – A magnet attracting a steel can. This symbol indicates that the product is made of steel. All local authorities will collect steel cans and recycle them!

Glass symbol

Glass – Three arrows arranged in a triangular shape, facing clockwise, with a stick person in the centre, placing a bottle in a bin. This symbol asks you to recycle the glass product. Glass can be appropriately disposed of at a bottle bank, or through kerbside collection – if your local council offers this. Glass recycling can seem a little complicated, as not all glass types can be recycled. A lot of this relates to the colour of the glass, and subsequent melting temperature. You can learn more here.

The Tidyman symbol

Tidyman – A stick person, disposing of waste in a bin. Fairly familiar to most, the Tidyman symbol originates from Keep Britain Tidy. It simply acts as a reminder to dispose of your waste appropriately. It does not necessarily mean that the product is recyclable.

Compostable symbol

Compostable – a fancy number six, with sprouting leaves. Products, including plastics, bearing this symbol are compostable. This means they should not be put in your normal recycling. Instead, place them in your food or garden waste bin.

FSC symbol © FSC

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – A tick which morphs into a deciduous tree. The FSC logo can be found on wood-based products from well managed forests – independently certified in line with the FSC’s rules. Wood and timber are generally not accepted in your household recycling, however, can be taken to local waste recycling facilities.

In short:

Ven diagram showing the various recycling symbols under the categories “Recycle me!” and “Do NOT recycle me!” © Living Seas Wales

Check locally

What does checking locally – the middle area on our ven diagram – mean? You can use the Wales Recycles website to find out more about which products can be appropriately disposed of by your local council. Simply select “recycling at home” and enter your postcode to learn more!

You should always double checking how waste disposal is managed in your local area, particularly if you have recently moved, as disposal and recycling services will vary between local councils.

Why should we recycle?

Hopefully, if you’ve made it to this point in the article, you’re already recycling at least some products from around your home! If not, you may be thinking “why should I”? It can seem like a lot of work to have to, in some cases, clean and then sort your waste products appropriately. So why bother?

Gulls feeding at Veolia Landfill Site, Essex © Terry Whittaker/2020VISION

    • Recycling makes a difference: Currently, in the UK, recycling is estimated to save between 10 – 15 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually – that’s the same as taking 3.5 million cars off the road!
    • Recycling saves natural resources: Once recycling has been collected, it will be sorted, bailed, and then transported to reprocesses to be made into brand new products! The fibres in paper, for example, could go on to be used in egg cartons, loft insulation, or even new road surfaces! And, because the product is being reused, it also stops trees and forests being chopped down to create the same product!
    • Recycling protects wildlife: By saving natural resources, fewer forests are cut down, and less wildlife is displaced. Recycling, and disposing of waste appropriately, also stops waste from entering and polluting our environment.
    • Recycling saves energy: If we take aluminium as an example, recycling can save up to 95% of the energy needed to produce the same product from the raw materials. It’s estimated that the energy saved by recycling, instead of producing, just one aluminium can, can power a TV for 3 hours!
    • Herring Gull and Plastic pollution © Jason Burk / CBMWC

      Recycling fights climate change: Who knew your yoghurt pot could be so powerful?! Because recycling uses less energy, it also produced lower carbon emissions than processing raw materials.

    • Recycling is good for the economy: In 2017, a London council stated that “it is six times cheaper to dispose of recycled waste than general waste”. Not only does recycling save money, it also creates jobs in a green economy!
    • It does get easier: Cleaning and sorting your waste will eventually become as second nature as washing your hands after you’ve used the bathroom! Particularly if you generally buy the same products, with the same packaging, week on week, you’ll soon be recycling like a pro!

Convinced? We certainly are.

🎶 In short: reduce, reuse, and recycle! 🎶

Autumn Clean Cymru 2020

After sadly postponing Spring Clean Cymru due to COVID-19, Keep Wales Tidy excitedly announced that Autumn Clean Cymru would be taking place from the 11th to the 27th of September 2020.

Beach clean litter © Laura Evans / CBMWC

So, what is Autumn Clean Cymru?

Autumn Clean Cymru is part of the Great British September Clean, which is taking place at the same time across the entirety of the UK. The idea is for us all to take a stand and declare that litter is not acceptable!

Over lockdown, many of us turned to nature as a source of comfort, beauty, and inspiration. We learnt, or were reminded, as a society just how valued our wild spaces are. With the return of people, the amount of litter we are seeing in our environment has been on the rise. Our Living Seas Team wrote about this issue back in June, however the problem has only gotten worse.

But that does not mean that nothing can be done!

How can you get involved?

To ensure the safety of all of those involved, this year Autumn Clean Cymru is focusing on encouraging individuals and households to clean-up the streets, parks, and beaches, that are found on their doorstep! For those of you who are keen to get involved in this way, you can learn how to safely carry out a litter pick here, or download the Wildlife Watch guide!

Disposable cup found on a street clean © Beth Thompson / CBMWC

Our Living Seas Team will also be providing interactive activities, educational material, and interesting facts throughout the 17-day period on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! You can get involved by following the accounts listed below:

Why should I get involved?

Simply remember – every one of us can make a difference.

Please ensure that any litter collected is disposed of appropriately, and that you are taking the relevant safety precautions when carrying out your pick – we would always recommend using either gloves or, ideally, a litter picker.

⚠️ If you do spend time out and about, please ensure you adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines ⚠️

 

Main Image: Litter picking in New Quay, Ceredigion © CBMWC

What is an Oil Spill?

Over the past month we’ve watched as the MV Wakashio has leaked approximately 1,000 tonnes of oil into the pristine waters, and surrounding reefs, of Mauritius. The ship, which hit a coral reef on the 25th of July 2020, and subsequent oil spill, has threatened corals, fish, and other marine life, in what some scientists suggest could be the worst ecological disaster that Mauritius has ever seen.

Thames shipping near Canvey Island and the Coryton Oil Refinery. Essex. © Terry Whittaker / 2020VISION

Early estimates from the US analytics company, Ursa Space Systems, as of the 11th of August 2020, found that the spill was covering an area of 27 square kilometres. Given that the ship ran aground in a sanctuary for rare wildlife, and close to a wetlands designated as a site of international importance, this is particularly concerning.

The MV Wakashio oil spill is by no means the first, or worst, of its kind, and it is, unfortunately, unlikely to be the last. Oil spills have reached every ocean globally, including waters closer to home. But more on that in a moment. First, let’s establish some basics.

What are oil spills?

According to Dictionary.com, an oil spill is the “accidental release of oil into a body of water, as from a tanker, offshore rig, or underwater pipeline, often presenting a hazard to marine life and the environment”. Oil spills are, as noted above, generally accidental, however there have been cases historically, as during the Gulf War, where spills were instead intentional. This would, however, generally be considered a rarity.

What causes oil spills?

Accidental oil spills into bodies of water can be caused by human error, equipment breaking or failing, or by natural disasters. Investigations are generally carried out to determine the cause of a spill.

What happens during/directly after an oil spill?

As oil enters the water it will generally float – very heavy oil will occasionally sink in freshwater systems – and begin to spread, forming a thin layer on the surface. We call this an oil slick. We can actively see slicks or sheens on the water, and you are actually likely to have seen smaller versions on road surfaces – they resemble a rainbow.

Atlantic grey seal pup © Manon Chaurtard / CBMWC

As this oil spreads, it can be very harmful to wildlife and communities in its wake.

Why are they a problem for wildlife?

Oil spills can have devastating consequences on marine and coastal wildlife. Particularly those that spend time on the surface of the ocean, or on the shoreline.

Fur-bearing mammals and birds

For fur-bearing mammals, such as sea otters and seal pups, oil can destroy the insulating ability of their fur. Similarly, when coated in oil, birds’ feathers will lose their ability to repel water. In both cases, the affected individuals are completely exposed to the environment, and the ocean around them; and are therefore unable to protect themselves from the elements. Many may suffer from hypothermia, and subsequently die.

Bottlenose dolphin surfacing © Dr Sarah Perry / CBMWC

Dolphins, whales and turtles

Species without fur or feathers, including charismatic animals such as dolphins, whales, and turtles, are also affected. Dolphins and whales may inhale oil as they surface, which can subsequently affect their lungs, immune system, and reproduction. Whilst sea turtles, and a number of other animals, may ingest oil, either by mistaking it for food or attempting to clean themselves. Oil is, perhaps unsurprisingly, poisonous if ingested.

Since the MV Wakashio ran aground last month, at least 17 dolphins have been found dead on the coast of Mauritius.  Postmortem investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of death.

Fish

Even organisms which do not directly encounter the slick at the surface, are affected. Adult fish can experience changes in growth rate, heart rate, and reproductive rates, as well as enlargement of the liver. For fish eggs and larvae, the effects can be even more severe, with spills often proving lethal.

Shanny © Dr Sarah Perry / CBMWC

Why are they a problem for coastal communities?

For coastal communities, a reduction in fish stock in this way, is not only a concern ecologically, but also in terms of food supply and the local economy.

Fishermen, ecotourism businesses, and environmental charities, to name a few, can all be negatively affected by the aftereffects of oil spills. Potentially leaving the environment, and economy – depending on the severity of the spill – in a state of disrepair for years to come.

Oil spills in Welsh waters

Historic spills in Welsh waters

Wales has seen its share of oil spills over the years. With perhaps the most infamous being the Sea Empress oil spill in 1996, and the Christos Bitas oil disaster in 1978. Both of these spills took place off the Pembrokeshire coastline and were caused by the ships running aground on rocks, spilling 73,000 tonnes and 5,000 tonnes of oil respectively.

Male Common Scoter © Derek Moore

Data from the time showed that, as a result of the 1978 spill, 1,520 sea birds were covered in oil, of which 68%, a huge 1,035 died, alongside 3 Atlantic grey seals who were residing around Skomer Island.

The Sea Empress spill, which released over fourteen times the amount of oil compared to the Christos Bitas disaster, was equally catastrophic for marine life, with around 1/3 of the local scoter population believed to have been killed in the spill. However, a report from two years later, remarked of how the area was recovering well – partly due to luck (timing, wind direction, oil type), and largely due to the monumental clean-up effort that followed.

And so, oil spills are not necessarily just a catastrophic event that we see in the news, happening in far off places. They will, have, and indeed may happen again, in waters closer to home.

Laura Evans, our Living Seas Wales Project Officer, at one of our ‘Memory Pod’ events © CBMWC

The Sea and Me

We are interested to hear from anyone who recalls either of the aforementioned oil spills, the Sea Empress (1996) and Christos Bitas (1978), as part of our marine memories project: The Sea and Me. We are looking to record your stories of the marine environment, and marine wildlife, with the hope of being able to use these conversations, to push back historical conservation baselines.

Now what does that mean? It means we will be able to gain a greater understanding of what the marine environment use to look like, what it looks like today, and how it might look going in to the future. There are real applications from this project to shape how we can best protect and conserve our oceans going forward. 

If you are able to contribute, please feel free to submit your memories via our website, or drop an email to our Living Seas Engagement Officer, Beth, at livingseas@welshwildlife.org.

Thank you.

Main Image: “Clean Up After a Big Oil Spill” by NOAA’s National Ocean Service, which is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Litter during Lockdown

Throughout lockdown, many people have turned to nature as a source of comfort, beauty, and inspiration. We are learning as a society just how valued our wild spaces are to us, as places to get much needed headspace, exercise, and fresh air.

Monster can on Traeth Gwyn Beach © Beth Thompson / CBMWC

Over the past few weeks many have welcomed the slight easing of lockdown restrictions here in Wales. Being able to travel within 5 miles of our doorsteps has allowed many people to return to their favourite local parks, beaches, and woodlands.

However, alongside the return of people to our wild spaces, we have seen a rather ugly shadow. Litter. 

Beach cleans, carried out by Living Seas Wales staff, over the past week, have collected: food wrappers, drinks bottles, fishing tackle, cigarettes, socks (!!), cans, dog poo bags, ice cream sticks, takeaway tubs/wrappings and even a toy car! And this is just a small selection.

However, it is not just discarded litter that is causing a problem. The bins in the photo below are situated just off our local beach here in New Quay and are a mere 35 steps apart – a 20 second walk.

Bins in New Quay, Ceredigion © Beth Thompson / CBMWC

One is practically empty, the other is overflowing.

Whilst enjoying the outdoors we ask that you consider the effect that your actions may have, not just on others, but on the environment. Think about how you are going to dispose of your litter: 

  • Can your waste be reused? Reusable plastic bags and bottles are not made to be disposed of after one use. Make sure you make the most out of them and the money you have spent to buy them in the first place! Or better still, invest in a fully reusable cloth bag or metal bottle. 
  • Toy car found on Harbour Beach, New Quay © Beth Thompson / CBMWC

    Can your waste be recycled? If so, make sure it goes in the right bin. Incorrect sorting of litter can lead to cross-contamination, and recyclables needlessly going to landfill.

  • Can you take your waste home? If the local bins are full, or if you are disposing of glass or BBQs, you should be taking your litter home with you to dispose of appropriately.  

We all have a responsibility to look after our environment. Many of us often remark that we are lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Let’s work together to keep it that way. 

Thank you. 

Herring Gull and Plastic pollution © Jason Burk / CBMWC

A note on litter picking: When litter picking we would always recommend using either gloves or, ideally, a litter picker. Ensuring you yourself do not come in to contact with the waste, now more than ever, is important. Litter pickers are available for public use at 2-minute beach clean stations across the UK and Ireland. Please remember to exercise personal hygiene before and after touching any communal equipment.

Main Image: Disposable cup found above Dolau Beach © Beth Thompson / CBMWC

Discover Marine Wildlife!

For many people out there, parents in particular, lockdown has provided a new challenge…teaching. With most schools in Wales being closed to all expect the children of critical workers, and pupils considered vulnerable, lessons have moved from the classroom to the kitchen table. 

Exploring the hidden world of rockpools © CBMWC

However, it is not just traditional learning that has been affected by lockdown. Our Living Seas team would usually be delivering a whole range of educational activities to local children and holiday makers alike. From exploring the hidden world of rockpools, to spotting for dolphins and porpoises; our education events aim to increase your understanding and appreciation of the world around us, and the species that we are fortunate enough to share it with. 

Until it is safe to do so, our education events are on hold. But this does not mean we have forgotten about them, or you! 

Several of our activities have found a new, virtual platform, and are now available for viewing on Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre’s YouTube channel: 

Dolphin Detective © CBMWC/Living Seas Wales

Bird Bonanza © CBMWC/Living Seas Wales

With more sessions being adapted and recorded as lockdown continues, expect to see more content for your home schooling very soon! 

You can keep an eye on our Marine Education Series here!

For those of you looking for additional resources for your mini Marine Biologists, we would recommend our activity/craft sheets. As well as those provided through Wildlife Watch, the junior branch of The Wildlife Trusts.

Don’t forget to sign up to 30 Days Wild, to do one wild thing a day throughout the month of June! 

Main Image: Spotting for dolphins in New Quay © Jay Burk / CBMWC

The Sea and Me

Looking for things to do in lockdown? Perhaps you are finding your thoughts drifting back to simpler times spent by the coast? If so, why not help our Living Seas team record memories from the Welsh coast?!

New Quay, 1983 © Debbie

What is The Sea and Me?

‘The Sea and Me’ is part of The Living Seas Wales Project, a collaboration launched in 2018 between WTSWW and North Wales Wildlife Trust (NWWT), funded thanks to the players of The People’s Postcode Lottery and The National Heritage Lottery Fund. 

We are looking to understand how our seas have changed over the years, and to do this, we are hoping to record people’s memories of the marine environment from across the Welsh coast. So far, we have heard from ex-fishermen, holiday makers, wildlife wardens, divers, and locals whose families have lived on the Welsh coast for generations – we are very much hoping you could be next! 

In particular, we are interested in hearing about marine megafauna: people’s encounters with marine wildlife such as dolphinswhales or sharks, for example, as well as memories relating to seabirds or fishing.

Why should we record memories?

We know that our seas are changing, but by recording people’s memories, we have the chance to push back historical baselines, learn more about our past, and open up conversations about the incredible species we share our oceans with!

As time passes, and unlike data already in archives, stories are constantly at risk of being forgotten. That means that time really is of the essence to share your, and your family’s stories.

How can I pass my memories on?

Trefor Harbour, North Wales © Melanie Williams

There are various ways that you can reach out to our Living Seas Team:

Memories can be written down or recorded into an audio or video file. You can also submit photos, letters, postcards, etc.

For more information about the Living Seas Wales Project, please visit: https://livingseas.wales/.