Lobosonda kicked off this bank holiday with a truly rewarding Spring Beach Cleanup which took place on the beautiful beach of Madalena do Mar. This was our company’s second cleanup and was organised in collaboration with Zerowaste Madeira as part of a local initiative to clean the coastline and waters of the island, the “Escultura do Lixo Marinho” project, where all collected waste will be used as raw material by the artist Bordalo II for a Monk Seal Sculpture. Around 30 motivated participants, locals and tourists alike, turned up and together we removed at least 2200 litres of waste.
The pebble beach stretching along the quaint, charming fishing village of Madalena is an interesting and important place with flourishing coastal fauna. Small streams and rivers flowing over the beach into the Atlantic have promoted the existence of little biotopes along the beach that are often filled with the chorus of toads that feed on the abundant freshwater insects. You may even encounter the occasional flock of geese waddling by as you stroll along the beach. In winter the beach is pummelled by the strong waves from the storms raging across the Atlantic, bringing plant debris and movement onto the stony beach. In summer it is a popular bathing destination and is prepared for the high season by bulldozers that flatten the stones to make it more comfortable for swimmers. The road alongside the beach is also lined with 3-4 bars and restaurants, that bustle with guests particularly during the summer.
A good 90% of the collected waste was close to the bars by the street with much less occurring near the water line, meaning that the majority may have originated from people walking on the street or from those visiting the bars. As with our previous cleanups, cigarette butts made up most of the collected waste along with styrofoam and plastic. We also managed to remove several large pieces of metal waste, which may have either been dumped on the beach or were remnants of the several summer beach bar installations that were cleared before the winter. This means that most of the waste in Madalena could easily be avoided if bars and restaurants would encourage their guests not to litter and put up more ashtrays or dustbins in the area. There is definitely room for improvement to maintain the beauty of this beach and cleanups like these should help raise awareness amongst locals and tourists, since the large pebbles of stony beaches like these tend to mask and camouflage the abundant litter.
As if to reward us for our efforts this morning, the Atlantic provided us with lovely sightings of Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) this afternoon. These gorgeous dolphins leapt alongside the bow of our zodiac and traditional boat and decorated the surface of the Atlantic along with a few Portuguese Man O’Wars (Physalia physalis), two Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) and a group of hunting Atlantic bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus)!
It was a truly special day for our team: we had the pleasure of cleaning one of the largest beaches on the island in great company and had wonderful afternoon tours with rewarding sightings! We are so lucky to be able to have such incredible encounters with marine life, help contribute to its protection and be able to share these experiences with others.
We encourage you to watch this space for updates regarding the inauguration of the Lobo Marinho sculpture by Bordalo on World Oceans day on June 8th. After all, we did provide some good raw material! Thank you to all those who supported us on this project, we are ready for more!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 Short-beaked common dolphins
15:00 Short-beaked common dolphins, Loggerhead turtle