Beauty incomplete

Ayrmer Cove is a secluded beach on the South Devon Coast and like so many of these small inlets it’s only accessible easily on foot, making it a deserted but beautiful spot. On a recent visit, it’s warm here and the sunlight shimmers on the waves as they make their relentless passage over the sand. The only other sound is the song of the skylarks which repeats and repeats as though the birds are continually asking a question but it is never answered.

Aymer Cove 1
The beach and sea at Ayrmer Cove

As we poke around the beach it’s clear that the beauty of this place is incomplete. All over the beach we find small plastic items, pieces of rope, shards of rubber from old tyres, fragments of plastic bottles etc. All kinds of maritime rubbish are on display here.

Aymer Cove 2
Maritime rubbish at Ayrmer Cove

Happily we do not find any dead seabirds. Quite recently more than a thousand dead seabirds have been found washed up on beaches in Devon and Cornwall. In fact this is the second time this has occurred this year. On both occasions the seabirds have been killed by a chemical (polyisobutene (PIB)) carried by ships and discharged in to the sea when they wash out their tanks. The discharged PIB does not mix with water and so forms a sticky mass; the birds become coated in the chemical and cannot dive or feed.
The chemical is not toxic to humans and is used extensively in different forms as an oil additive, in chewing gum and in cosmetics and as a synthetic rubber. Its effects on seabirds and marine life in general have not been well researched and the RSPB is calling for increased regulation and scientific investigation. 38 degrees also has a petition.
All I really want to do here is to draw some attention to the problems of indiscriminate dumping in the seas. It’s another example of our cavalier attitude to the natural world and I am not sure what we can do about it or how long it can go on.

4 thoughts on “Beauty incomplete”

    1. I live in Ringmore, about half a mile from Aymer Cove. About twice a year the villagers go down there and clear the beach of rubbish so we do try to keep our environment looking good – but I agree, the stuff that ships throw overboard and the noxious things they discharge as they go along is pretty awful. No one ever seems to take responsibility for getting anything done to prevent this. Where do you start? Petitioning the government produces no reaction at all except delaying tactics or hand washing.

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      1. Thanks for your comment Carmen. I know how hard local communities work to keep beaches clean in the face of all this sea-borne pollution. It seems to be prevalent on all the beaches I have visited around here unless they are cleaned (like Bantham) or washed regularly by tides. We were at Woodcombe Beach (near East Prawle) yesterday and there was the usual selection of plastic rubbish.
        I share your pessimism about government reaction but there does seem to be increasing opposition to dumping. Here is the latest news I have picked up on reactions to the PIB scandal: http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/getinvolved/b/seabirds/archive/2013/05/14/more-calls-to-ban-the-seabird-killer-pib.aspx

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