Volunteer litter pickers were left ‘devastated’ by the amount of rubbish found at a Budleigh Salterton beach in their first clean-up operation since lockdown restrictions were eased.
Volunteers helping in the Clean Beach Budleigh. Picture: Marta Marcota
Usually Clean Beach Budleigh members and supporters take around an hour to remove the rubbish from a stretch of the beach from Lime Kiln Car Park to Otter Head.
According to group coordinator Marta Marcote, during the first clean-up since the lockdown restrictions were relaxed, it took volunteers an hour and a half to clean that section of the beach.
“Even so, we were only able to clean up the higher part of the beach – just 100 metres long,” said Marcota.
“We were devastated by what we found.
Items found during a beach clean in Budleigh. Picture: Marta Marcota
“We found several fire pits remaining from barbecues on the beach.
“Most of them had been loosely covered with a few clean pebbles, thereby obscuring what was underneath and making the hazard below even harder to see.
“Once we removed the pebbles, we could see what was below.”
Itesm found during a beach clean in Budleigh. Picture: Marta Marcota
Marcota, who is a marine and environmental scientist, said they also found rusty nails and broken glass.
She added: “It was very dangerous because nails were pointing in all directions.
“It would have been very easy to stand on them, and for the nails to push through the sole of a shoe, sandal or flip-flop.
“It is easy to imagine what could happened to a bare foot – whether that of an adult, a child or a dog.
“Such metals and glass remain hidden in the surface of the beach unless someone bothers to pick them up.”
Clean Beach Budleigh was established with the help of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) in 2018, organising its first beach clean in September of that year.
Since then, Budleigh resident Marcota has organised 12 beach cleans at Budleigh and the events normally cover 500 metres of the beach.
She organised the clean-up in June by advertising the event on Facebook and via the MCS website ‘to have a small group of people who would respect government rules about social distancing’.
Results of the clean-ups are sent to MCS which analyses the data and uses the results to raise awareness of pollution and tackle it at source in the UK.