Today was a particularly interesting day for the Lobosonda team. The crew and guests had to withstand rather gusty conditions out at sea which made it extremely hard for us to find animals. While the difficult conditions at sea resulted in our vessels unfortunately returning to the marina with no sightings of cetaceans, we found more than we had expected during our first beach cleanup “Happy Clean Beach 2019”.
We wanted to keep this event small, since it was our first ever cleanup here at Lobosonda in order to be on top of things regarding organization. So we decided to kickstart the year by cleaning the sandy beach close to the marina in Calheta. The sandy beaches here are quite small and rather sheltered, meaning that most of the waste is likely to be dumped directly onto the beaches. At first glance the beach looked rather clean and seemed like a fair challenge for the Lobosonda crew members and our 11 motivated volunteers.
Of course, things are not always what they seem. Sandy beaches are usually full of the smaller perpetrators when it comes to beach litter and this was in fact the type of rubbish that we wanted to draw some attention to. A classic example of a highly detrimental piece of waste that is incredibly small is a cigarette filter. These don’t only harm the smoker. After they are flicked into coastal ecosystems, the toxins that accumulate inside the filters are poisonous enough to wipe out half the fish in a liter of water. While this is a big problem in natural rock pools along the coastline, these toxins also leach into the sand and bind to the substrate, gradually poisoning the coastline and the water. Compiled, they are the largest source of ocean waste on the planet with a whopping 2.4 million collected during cleanups in 2017 alone.
Apart from the cigarette filters we also manage to fill two large bags with a very familiar killer in our oceans; plastic. Plastic bags, wrappers and broken pieces of plastic furniture were amongst the many objects that were cleared from the beach. We also found some broken glass and retrieved large iron bars that were buried under the sand.
After recovering this unexpectedly large amount of rubbish from such a small beach and sorting it to dispose of it correctly, we reflected on a simple fact after our first cleanup; we had only cleared the top layer of sand from waste on this beach. Who knows how many more cigarette filters, plastic bags and other pieces of waste litter the lower layers.
This thought, however, only motivates us to organize such events more often. One of the foundational aims of our company is to raise awareness on environmental issues surrounding the oceans, which means our work needs to expand beyond offering encounters with cetaceans. We also need to raise awareness on the collective responsibilities we all share towards the natural environment.
So, in a nutshell, it was refreshing to start the year with a good initiative and our team is already looking forward to the next one! It’s also worth mentioning that this was also simply an afternoon well spent in very good company. Our small group of volunteers consisted of lovely people from all walks of life that came together to dedicate some hours of their day to a good deed. Big thanks again to all who participated!
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 No sighting
16:00 No sighting