Friday, 20 December 2013

"Dirty Beach" fundraiser a great success

Sea Champion Hannah of "March of the Mermaids" joined forces with artists Lou McCurdy and Chloe Hanks earlier this week for the "Dirty Beach Party" in Brighton - an evening to highlight the perils of plastics in our seas and to raise funds for MCS.

Lou says: "It was a great atmosphere for a great cause, and we raised just under £200 for MCS. There were plenty of pirates, mermaids and sea loving folk who danced the night away. We were very appreciative and lucky to have eminent DJs, a fantastic pirate band, face painting, an upcycling craft stall, a pirate magician and an amazing burlesque star to compere it all! We celebrated the sea in style and look forward to more fundraising nautical shenanigans events in 2014!"

Big thank you from the MCS team - it sounds like it was truly a night to remember!

If you're keen to fundraise for MCS in the new year, check out our fundraising resources.

The "Dirty Beach Party" in Brighton highlighted the issues associated with litter in our oceans and raised almost £200 for MCS!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Great Nurdle Hunt!

Scottish Sea Champions are taking part in the "The Great Nurdle Hunt" to find out how widespread "nurdle" pollution is around the coast of the Forth. 


What on earth is a nurdle?

Nurdles are plastic pellets, about the size of a lentil, that are the raw material used to make nearly all plastic objects. They get into our seas through accidental spillage and mishandling by industry, where they are often mistaken for food by animals like seabirds fish and crustaceans.

Sea Champions Sarah Conner, Susie Burnet, Jackie Leeds, Jenny McAllister, Lesley Anderson, Margaret Harrison, Peter Stevens and Kimberley Hahn have been recording nurdles during their Beachwatch cleans around the Forth Estuary - a designated Special Protected Area largely because of the birds that live and breed around it, many of which have been shown to ingest plastic.

"The Great Nurdle Hunt" has been set up by a group of local residents concerned about the continuing presence of plastic pellets and other marine litter around the Forth.
 
Reporting nurdles is helping build up an evidence to show the local plastics industry the extent of the nurdle pollution.
 
Image: Clare McIntyre

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Festive frolicks in Ross-on-Wye

Each Christmas, the "Gresleys" community in Ross-on-Wye sees the whole street, young and old, getting together for the "Christmas Switch On", when the homes on the street simultaneously switch on their plentiful Christmas lights whilst raising money for charity - this year for the Marine Conservation Society, St. Michael's Hospice and the Hope Trust.

It all kicked off with an explosive firework display over the darkened street, signaling the families to run inside to switch on their light displays - which this year included a seagull in a pear tree!

Around twenty houses on the street got together for two hours of mayhem, entertaining hundreds of Ross-on-Wye citizens who came to enjoy no end of Christmassy fundraisers. From "guess the weight of the Christmas cake", cakes, sausage rolls, mulled cider and cranberry juice to "hook a Christmas bauble", "throw a snowball through a letter box" and "throw a hoop on the snowman's nose" amongst many more activities.

Thanks go to the Gresleys community for their tremendous efforts, and to MCS staff members Sue Ranger and Peter Richardson.

Do you have any Christmassy activities planned? If so, let us know!

Our very own Peter Richardson dishing out mulled cider!

Hundreds of people turned out for the Gresleys annual "Christmas Switch On" - this year raising funds for MCS!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A supermarket like no other arrives in Brighton!

MCS fundraisers have created a supermarket style art installation that aims to encourage more sustainable use and recycling of plastic.


The “TruCost Super M-Art” gives shoppers a very different experience, with shelves stocked solely with discarded plastic items found on UK beaches to draw attention to the pressing issue of plastic pollution, waste and consumption.

The shelves are brimming with water bottles, juice bottles, milk cartons, cleaning products and a massive plastic fragment pick and mix range - all collected from local beaches with the help of Sea Champions and volunteers.

Lou McCurdy and Chloe Hanks, known as the "
Dirty Beach artists", set up the installation, and have since been asked to exhibit the supermarket at the National Trust visitor centre at Birling Gap in Eastbourne, at Brighton and Plymouth Universities, and have been invited to New Orleans next year by '5 Gyres' to create a similar exhibition from plastic recovered from the Mississippi River!

Lou said: “It’s been amazing. We have had more visitors to the installation in the first day we opened than any other single day at any other exhibition at ONCA Gallery and people can’t quite make out whether we are a real supermarket until they enter.

With partner Chloe, Lou spent three weeks collecting beach plastic from Birling Gap to Shoreham.

The TruCost Super M-Art at ONCA Gallery, is running between November 16th to December 21st 2013 to highlight the perils of plastics and our throwaway lifestyle.

Sea Champion Hannah Chilton behind "March of the Mermaids" is helping to organise the "Dirty Beach fundraiser" at The Blind Tiger club in Grand Parade, Brighton, on December 17 from 4pm with DJs, stalls and more. Entry is £5, which goes to the MCS.


Visit their website and find them on Facebook for more information.  

What is the "TruCost" of our throw away lifestyle? The “TruCost Super M-Art” art installation encourages more sustainable use and recycling of plastics whilst raising funds for MCS.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

27 out of 31 Marine Conservation Zones!

MCS has welcomed today’s announcement by Government of 27 Marine Conservation Zones as a significant milestone for marine conservation in English seas.

This is a significant step towards stemming the alarming decline in our rich marine biodiversity, ensuring iconic species such as the seahorse, black bream and native oyster, and stunning habitats in places such as Chesil Beach and the Skerries Banks, may be better protected for future generations.

We're also pleased to see that the Government has listened to concerns about when more designations will be planned, with consultation on future zones timetabled in 2015/16 and 2016/17.
Thank you Sea Champions! You alone collected over 7,000 pledges for a full network of MCZs, donated nearly 500 hours of your time inputting pledge data, wrote to your local newspapers, met with MPs, spread the word on social media and joined us on a freezing February morning to march on Westminster led by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

We couldn't have done this without you!

Read the full story here and the list of 27 MCZs here.

Philippa Arding is the winner of the MCS Fundraiser of the Year Award 2013

Philippa’s husband Nick, and friend Lee embarked on an epic "Around Britain" sea kayaking challenge in May this year after two years of planning. Philippa was keen to support MCS’ beach cleans and organised eleven beach cleans around the country to coincide with Nick and Lee’s overnight stops.

Unfortunately after 400 miles of kayaking, Lee suffered an injury - but this didn’t end the challenge, Philippa stepped in to join Nick and took Lee’s place! As a relatively inexperienced kayaker (in her own words) it is even more incredible that Philippa went on to kayak 800 miles with Nick!

During the four month challenge, Philippa:

Raised £3,723.13
Cleaned 16 beaches
Involved 122 volunteers
Collected 139 bags of rubbish plus 50 kg of litter whilst in their kayaks
Gave 5 presentations to schools and groups and have another 4 lined up

If you would like to support Philippa and Nick’s incredible challenge you can sponsor them here http://www.justgiving.com/AB4B-MCS

We are looking forward to working with Philippa and Nick on future sea kayaking projects – look out for more information next year!
 
 
Philippa and Nick Arding on their epic "Around Britain" kayak challenge
 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Beat the Microbead!


Welsh Sea Champions Sarah and Harriet have been helping us "Beat the Microbead"!

Our seas are becoming filled with microscopic plastic particles - they are now present in all the seas and oceans of the world, and we are contributing to this when we use certain bathroom products.

Every day, millions of people, without knowing, wash plastic beads down the drain, and into our seas. A whopping 3 out of 4 scrubs and peels contain micro plastics - but it's not just these products. Shampoos, soap, toothpaste, eyeliners, lip gloss, deodorant and sunblock sticks can also contain plastic particles.

We want Sea Champions to BOYCOTT products containing plastic ingredients. Starting NOW!

Download the “Beat the microbead” app so you can scan barcodes to see if a product contains microplastics.

We really need your help to get British products listed on the app. Please tell us which products do and don’t contain micro plastics!

Welsh Sea Champions Sarah and Harriet have been doing a fantastic job checking which products contain microplastics in shops in Swansea, so we can update the app.
 
Sarah and Harriet checking which products contain microplastics in shops in Swansea.

Friday, 15 November 2013

And the winners of the Sea Champions photo competition are...

Thanks to all who took part in the Sea Champions photo competition, we've had some fantastic entries!

We’re very pleased to announce our winners on the MCS website.

Although the competition has finished for this year, we are still in need of photos. So next time you visit the coast, order a fish supper or take part in Sea Champions activities, please send us your shots. If we use them, they will of course be fully credited. Download our guide to the types of photos we really need.

To everyone who took part, many thanks again, you’ve really helped us build up our image library to help us get our conservation messages across.


Just a few of the amazing entries into the Sea Champions photo competition.
 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Ocean explorer Paul Rose presents the "Fish Award"

We are delighted to announce the winner of this years ‘Fish Award’ for outstanding contribution to MCS and marine conservation.

Pete Wilkinson, from the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, was presented with the award last night at the MCS AGM and evening with Paul Rose in London.

Pete is a long term supporter of MCS and an organiser of Beachwatch Big Weekend. Not any old organiser, Pete along with, at times up to 200 volunteers, tries to survey as much of the Llyn Penisula as possible. As an incentive to take part, he offers free camping at his campsite, gets a local band along to play and organises a party as a thank you. On top of this, he manages to co-ordinate hundreds of people to do surveys around the coast.

If that wasn’t enough, he then has to sort out all the data – no small feat with over 20 beach surveys to collate individual volunteer sheets, tally them then submit them (and now enter them online).

Also he is known locally as the MCS representative and raises money for us too.

Paul Rose presents Pete Wilkinson with the "Fish Award" for his outstanding contribution to MCS and marine conservation

 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Sea Champions take to the beach for Autumn clean-ups!

Sea Champion Sarah and her team near Portishead, braved the elements to complete the second ever Beachwatch survey at Black Nore. 25 kilos of rubbish were collected just a few months after the first event at this interesting and secluded beach.
 
Thanks also to Sea Champions organising and volunteering at beach cleans at Hengistbury Head, Sand Bay and Gwithian, and to Anna Keirle's for adding a new dimension to beach cleans with her amazing face painting skills!
 
Meanwhile in Wales, regular beach cleans have been taking place on Swansea Bay starting this month, and then every first Saturday of the month, followed by a coffee, catch up and warm up! 
 
Whilst in Scotland, more and more Sea Champions are taking the next step and organising their own Beachwatch beach cleans!
 
If you'd like to get involved in a beach clean and litter survey this Autumn, get in touch with your Volunteer Coordinator for support.
 
 
 


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Underwater pumpkin carving!

On a foul and spookily rainy and windy night, intrepid pumpkin carvers ventured underwater...

Big thanks to our friends and fundraisers at Frogfish Photography - they've just held an underwater pumpkin carving competition, at Capernwray in Lancashire, in aid of MCS! Check out more photos here.

Thanks also to Welsh Sea Champion Kate, who's created some fab marine themed spooky cakes for Halloween. Why not give them a go as a Halloween fundraiser? Great to take into the work place, university, or Autumn fairs. 50p a slice anyone? Download the activity sheets for some spooky cake tips and ideas.

Happy Halloween!

 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

PIB discharge banned!

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that regulates shipping decided to ban the discharge of high viscosity polyisobutylene (PIB) the horrid sticky substance that caused the death of over 4,000 seabirds off SW England in April this year.

Sea Champion Gemma James, who also volunteers for the Marine Wildlife Strandings Network, understands the significance of this step forward after she coordinated the collection of seventeen dead seabirds at Batten Bay's Big Beach Clean-up in April.

The ban follows lobbying by MCS and other environmental NGOs.


Sea Champion Gemma James collectning seabirds coated in PIB at Batten Bay earlier this year
 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Sea Champion Kay speaks out for our seas


Sea Champion Kay Foster gives an account of her recent talk to around thirty people from her village:

"Jonathan Holt, from the North West Wildlife Trusts, joined me to talk about Marine Conservation Zones whilst I talked about the work of MCS, the problems of overfishing, habitat damage, discards and bycatch and what MCS is working to change in order to stop these damaging activities.

The audience were particularly interested in how they could change their fish eating habits and some of them admitted they were nervous of buying fish they weren't familiar with because they weren't sure how to cook it or what it would taste like. There was a popular suggestion that they hold a fish cooking and tasting session in the village hall.

One member of the audience runs the local chippie and asked how she could persuade her customers to try different fish, and I threw that question open to the audience, who are her customers.
I found the audience were genuinely very interested, and the organiser had to cut the session short or we could have been there all night answering questions!"

Are you interested in giving a talk in your area? Get in touch with your Volunteer Coordinator for support.
  


Kay Foster and Jonathon Holt talking about the work of MCS




Wednesday, 23 October 2013

"Marine Magic" on the Isle of Skye

Scottish Sea Champions and the RSPB joined forces to meet up with children on the Isle of Skye inspiring them about Scotland's magical marine life.

In several 45 minute workshops, children listened to the journey of the leatherback turtle to Scottish waters where they also learned about the threats turtles face along the way. Meanwhile, teachers learned about ways in which the schools can take action through adopting angling litter bins and taking part in Beachwatch beach cleans and litter surveys.

Next up was the "Litter Timeline" activity where children learned about litter degradation times, a "Forensic Trail" where the children became nature detectives to solve a case of turtle nest predation, and a seashore "Touch Table" where children could look up close at some of the more unusual things we find on our beaches.

By the end of the four days, 650 children had taken part from 24 schools! Phew. 

These are great activities to run for 4-12 year olds. Get in touch with your Volunteer Coordinator for support if you are interested in running any of these activities.


Learning about the incredible journey of the Leatherback turtle to Scottish waters


 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

300 advocates for marine conservation

Thanks to all of our Sea Champions across the UK! Between you, you have donated a whopping 928 days of your time! You've spoken to over 25,000 people at over 200 events, talks and beach cleans, about marine conservation issues, and have raised over £16,000 through membership, pin badge sales and fundraising events.

You've been helping tackle beach litter by installing 13 angling litter bins in Scotland and Wales, and 20 of you signing up as new Beachwatch Organisers.

Interested in volunteering for MCS? Become a Sea Champion and become part of a growing network of volunteers helping to protect our amazing seas, shores and wildlife. Find out more about Sea Champions>>

Don't forget Sea Champions - we'd love to hear your thoughts on how we can develop the programme further. Please spare a few minutes to take part in our short survey and be in with a chance of winning a couple of bottles of wine and two beautiful seafood cookery books.






Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Sea Champions spreading the word at university Freshers Fairs


Sea Champion Sophie Rush tells us about her experiences as the voice for our seas at her university Freshers Fair in Plymouth...

"Sea Champion Alex and I hit the Fresher’s Fair of Plymouth University on 22nd September, setting up next to Plymouth’s Marine Biology Society at the University and encouraging the new intake of students to get involved in marine conservation. The response was astonishing with an impressive number of people signing up to become both members and Sea Champions. Marine conservation has never been more important and it showed that students at Plymouth truly understand this and want to have more of an impact in their local community.

The Marine Biology Society team was extremely supportive of our cause and even helped recruit a few new volunteers, many of them becoming members themselves! Plymouth is such a marine-focussed city that people really take interest in our goals with respect to conservation. Several were keen to discuss ideas for helping in the future which look to be promising and meanwhile our literature almost flew off the table, including many of the Good Fish and Beachwatch guides.

It was really uplifting to see such passion for the marine environment and to recruit some very motivated and positive individuals. It seems we may have an army of Sea Champions in Plymouth soon!"

 University Freshers Fayres are a great way to enthuse students about marine conservation and volunteering.  Get in touch with your Volunteer Coordinator for support if you'd like to consider representing MCS at your university.


Sea Champion Sophie at Plymouth University Freshers Fair

Monday, 7 October 2013

Children's 'pester power' can help tackle the plague of ocean debris

In July we blogged about Sea Champion Alex Milden helping to teach school children about the marine environment through workshops at the Ecover Schools Blue Mile event in Plymouth. Results of a recent survey show just how important these workshops have been.


Before and after the workshops, children completed the Ecover Blue Mile's short survey so we can gauge whether children's perceptions about marine litter had changed.

Results show that youngsters' views changed as they learnt more about the topics of marine litter and came to understand the impacts and solutions. More specifically, children’s problem awareness increased as they showed more concern about the issue after taking part in the event.

Children also perceived greater negative impacts of marine litter, and their knowledge improved regarding the possible sources of the rubbish, the predominance of plastic, and the potential time it takes litter to degrade.

Crucially, the children reported that since the event in June, they are now encouraging family and friends to perform more litter-reducing behaviours, showing the importance of ‘pester power’.

This shows just how important it is to engage with the next generation, and it is a big part of what Sea Champions is all about.

Are you keen to inspire the next generation about our amazing marine wildlife and conservation issues? You can find out about becoming a Sea Champion at www.mcsuk.org/seachampions

Take a look at the Ecover Schools Blue Mile Image Gallery

Sea Champion Alex running beach workshops at the Ecover Blue Mile event in Plymouth.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Kate completes her first half marathon!

Welsh Sea Champion Kate Wilson ran 13.5 miles around the Forest of Dean at the weekend, to raise funds for MCS. Here’s what she has to say:

“The fact that I completed the Forest of Dean Autumn Half Marathon just shows that anybody really can take on the challenge. I absolutely hate running, and I had never ran more than 20 minutes before. But despite this, I signed up with the view that more people would sponsor me if I did something that I would really find gruelling.

I had a team of friends who signed up too, to help motivate me, and I had colleagues who trained with me on a weekly three miles.

The day came far too quickly, and the longest I had ran was still a measly three miles. I was dreading it! Not only was it a huge distance, it was very hilly. But bizarrely, I actually enjoyed it! The sun was shining, the atmosphere was fantastic, and there were loads of people at my pace to talk to along the way. I was absolutely fine up until 10 miles, and only really found the last 3 miles a struggle. I barely walked, but my jogging pace was so slow I was practically walking anyway. Even though I was painfully slow, I’m proud to say I wasn’t last!

I think this shows that anyone can do this – why not take on a challenge and tick off something from your bucket list?”

Would you like to be a fundraiser for MCS? Check out our support resources.

Kate (third from left) and friends set to run the Forest of Dean Autumn Half Marathon!

Friday, 27 September 2013


 
Karli Drinkwater tells us what inspired her to become a Sea Champion:

"The sea fascinates, captivates and terrifies me. The moment I taste the salt in the wind, inhale that ripe coastal tang or hear the reassuring lapping of water and swooshing of the tide, I feel at home.

When I learned to dive a few years ago, my life changed forever. Witnessing the imagination of the underwater world and weightlessly experiencing our beautiful planet gives me a rush of calm and excitement every time. There is no feeling like it on earth. It’s impossible to look at the jewels of a coral reef or creatures that have been around for millions of years and not get a lump in your throat. How lucky we are to see such beauty.

But as much as it rejuvenates and restores the soul, the sea makes me nervous. Or more accurately, what’s happening there does. Pollution, overfishing and climate change are destroying the oceans. We are taking too much fish out, putting too much rubbish in and worst of all, we know that it’s happening. I became a Sea Champion with the Marine Conservation Society because I wanted to do something about it. I don’t want future generations to look back on us and ask why we didn’t care, why we treated our planet so barbarically, why we ravaged our natural resources and left them with nothing.

As much as facing the facts is oppressive and bleak, there is good news. We can turn it around. There is still time, but only if we all pull together and make change now.

Since becoming a Sea Champion, I have braved the cold and choppy waters of the English Channel to raise money for MCS; I have spread the message of eating sustainable fish at ocean events and have taken to Westminster with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, dressed as a neon orange crab, to fight for Marine Conservation Zones.

Being a Sea Champion is not only worthwhile, it’s a giggle and makes you feel like you’re making a difference. Conservation is action. So rather than feel down in the dumps about how much of a mess we’re in, the Sea Champions crew gives you the chance to meet like-minded people who also care deeply for the seas and want to make a change.

I have become so inspired from the Sea Champions scheme that I left my job as a producer in London to work on a marine conservation project in Thailand. For six weeks I worked on building artificial reefs, surveying underwater areas of interest and cleaning up beaches and dive sites with Eco Koh Tao. It felt empowering to be doing my bit every day. Through the hours of creating coral nurseries, building new structures or ticking off the amount of species indicative of that region on my underwater clipboard, I became peaceful.

At times, the more I learned, the more frustrated I felt. The reality of the situation hit me hard – hearing about the amount of reefs that are already lost or severely degraded; about the thousands of plant and animal species that are threatened with extinction; that millions of sharks are slaughtered for their fins every year, while the rest is thrown back in, all make you want to stick your head in the sand. But it’s time to cherish and protect. It’s time we all encouraged the next generation to question, to wonder and to become the guardians of the oceans better than we have. Without the oceans, we would not exist.

Becoming a Sea Champion isn’t just about saving the seas; it’s about saving ourselves."



Thursday, 26 September 2013


 
Sea Champion Anna Keirle, from Ross-on-Wye, tells us about her experiences volunteering at the 20th annual Beachwatch Big Weekend, at MCS's flagship beach - Sand Bay:

"Early Sunday morning we set off from Ross-on-Wye on an MCS road trip down to Sand Bay just outside Weston-super-mare for the Beachwatch Big Weekend!

The gazebos were set up and everything was ready for the day. Sam, MCS's Chief Executive, told the gathered crowd how important the clean was and exactly what to look for. Everyone was raring to go gloves and litter pickers at the ready.

It was another grey Sunday morning, but as the day warmed up the mist rolled back with the tide and the gathered group of volunteers and MCS staff scattered along the strandline collecting rubbish.

We weighed in what we had collected and there was a great pile of bin bags full of litter removed from the beach, very satisfying. I was shocked by the amount of cotton buds we found tangled in with the seaweed and sand, along with typical disposable items like Polystyrene cups and packing chips. There were also some more surprising finds like shotgun cartridges, and some toy soldiers!

The plant walk was fascinating. We looked at grasses and plants from different habitats of the beach and salt marshes of Sand Bay. The enthusiastic talk drew in some passers by and the group was all the merrier tramping through the dunes identifying, amongst others, Sea Buckthorn and Marram Grass.

Another clean took in the other side of the beach, more rubbish collected, more fishing lines and bottle caps. There were kites to make from carrier bags and turtles from egg boxes, and some of the children (and adults) had their faces painted with lovely marine themes. So lovely, that I forgot about the turtle on my cheek and got odd looks at the petrol station on the way home. Jealousy I suspect.

Another excellent and productive day spent with MCS."

Image: Anna Keirle



 

Thursday, 19 September 2013


 
Wow, what an amazing weekend! Two days dedicated to promoting marine conservation both in the water and out. Sea Champions Natasha and Anna tell us about their experiences of the Plymouth Blue Mile.

Natasha

"Lady luck was definitely smiling on us as the sun shone brightly over the Blue Mile event village on Saturday morning. The MCS stand was well equipped with activities and information and the team of staff and Sea Champions Volunteers were raring to chat to people about our work. It was also a real treat to have marine photographer extraordinaire Paul Naylor and his family on the stand with us. Paul very kindly helped with the Touch Table, sharing lots of fun facts about life under our seas. Did you know that cuttlefish have green blood?!

By midday the atmosphere was buzzing and everyone was having a great time. Larry the Lobster came out to please the crowds (and frighten a few dogs!) and six of the MCS team hit the water for the Aqua-tri. Plenty of cheering and hooting ensued! Back at the stand, Litter Pick Panic and the Touch Table were a hit with the children coming to learn more about our seaside.

All in all it was a super day and for me one of the best bits was getting the chance to spend time with other Sea Champions. Anna and Alex were super stars, donning the lobster costume and getting on a paddleboard all in the name of marine conservation!"


Anna

"It was an inspiring weekend spent at the Ecover Blue Mile in Plymouth with MCS. Lots of local children met Larry the lobster (Larry met Tim Baillie Olympic slalom canoeist and wore his Olympic Gold for a bit. When I say Larry, I mean me in the suit, and the gold was tantalisingly close on the outside of the costume hanging on the eye slit!) Stand up paddle boards , kayaks and swimmers took to the water en masse. Some races were more competitive than others , but all drew great support from the watching crowds.

The gala dinner was excellent with lovely local food (and local Plymouth gin) with some great prizes and thought provoking speeches from guest speakers including Paul Rose, who had encountered plastic pollution in Franz Josef land on one of his many expeditions.

The weather on Sunday was less summery with distinctly autumnal gusts and some drizzle early afternoon. Taster sessions on the water were more fun to watch with the paddle boards a little less stable in the swell!

I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend and it was great to interact with the positive crowd that the event attracted."
 

Sea Champion Natasha with MCS's Dr. Solandt, Anna disguised as Larry the Lobster, Olympic slalom canoeist Tim Baillie, and MCS's Andy Bool. Check out more photos from the weekend on the Sea Champions South West England facebook page.
 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Hang on to your tackle in Cardigan Bay!

MCS Angling litter bins are now installed at six locations around Ceredigion thanks to Friends of Cardigan Bay (FoCB)!

Phil Hughes, FoCB's chairman says: "The bins have worked well in their first three months, collecting a whole host of discarded line, hooks and general fishing waste. Whilst I appreciate litter on our beaches can be an on-going problem throughout the UK, angling line and hooks are particularly harmful to wildlife. Our oceans and wildlife have been abused for too long, but it's pleasing to see that attitudes are slowly changing."

Phil thanks volunteers for emptying the bins, anglers who are using the facility, and Ceredigion County Council who have supported the scheme.

Currently Angling litter bins are located at Aberystwyth (wooden jetty, stone jetty & Constitution hill), Borth (cliff end), Clarach (South Beach), and Newquay (outside the Boat place).

If you are interested in setting up angling litter bins in your area, download our "How to" guide and online resources.
Hang On To Your Tackle

Thursday, 12 September 2013


Sea Champion Crystal Golden-Hann tell us about representing MCS at the Bristol Festival of Nature:

  "This was my first outing as a Sea Champion on the front line. I’d previously taken part in beach cleans but this time I’d be manning the stand, talking to the public and answering questions. Other members of the team put me at ease, explaining the main issues we would be focusing on: promoting the Good Fish Guide, the Sea Champions scheme, beach cleaning and benefits of membership.

It was really heartening to see how many people are interested in the work MCS does. Many people were surprised at the sort of rubbish that we’ve found on our beaches during the beach cleans which illustrates how important education about pollution is. So many people don’t realise that what is flushed down a toilet can end up in the sea and on the beach.

We also had a small sand pit which we filled with rubbish then kids were invited to take part in a mini ‘beach clean’. This proved to be very popular, the children absolutely loved it and hopefully we helped to inspire a future generation of marine conservationists."


Sea Champion Crystal Golden-Hann running Litter Pick Panic at the Bristol Festival of Nature 
 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Sea Champions behind a lens this Autumn!

Sea Champions are busy with their Autumn action of taking photos for MCS!

We are always in need of photos as they are key to getting our conservation messages across. By sending us photos, Sea Champions are really helping us build our image library, so as a thank you, we're running this action as a competition!
 
First prize is an organic cotton ‘Save our Seas’ t-shirt worth £25 kindly, donated by Rapanui. Rapanui are an eco-fashion brand, producing award winning ethical fashion made from organic, natural fabrics in an ethical, wind powered factory. The runner up will receive a delicious bottle of M&S's Casa Leona wine.
 
There is no need to own a fancy camera to take part, even photos taken on a camera phone can be useful, particularly on social media and online campaigning.
 
Click to enter the Sea Champions photo competition and for more information on the three categories. Deadline is October 31st 2013.
 
Here are some of the entries so far:
 
A few Sea Champions photo competition eneries from Alasdair Wood, Boyd Darling and Kate Wilson.



Sea Champion Jane helps give Inner Hebridean Isle the coastal clean up of a lifetime

50 miles of Colonsay is now free from decades of debris!

Sea Champion Jane Rose has helped clean almost every inch of the island's coastline, clearing away litter left on the beaches by centuries of incoming and outgoing tides.

Jane has lived on the island for seven years was a regular beach cleaner during the project which began in March on the island's west coast and finished in mid-August at the same point.

The five and half month initiative, which cleaned 50 miles of the islands coast and filled 1,130 bags of rubbish, was supported by the Colonsay Community Council and co-ordinated by islander, Kevin Byrne.

Jane was one of a number of islanders who attended almost every cleaning session which took place for a couple of hours every Saturday of Sunday and says she was delighted to be involved.

"To think we cleaned about 98% of the island, only failing to get to a few steep gullies that were inaccessible, is pretty amazing. Now that we've got rid a lot of the of the very old rubbish, including bottles from the 1920's, massive tyres, drums of burned oil, TVs, beer barrels and fridges, we can concentrate on the litter that is either dropped or washed up now."

Jane, a beach litter artist, also found a number of bottles with messages in "one from as far away as Roddickton on the north east tip of Newfoundland from a four year old boy on summer camp there. A reply was sent and there was great excitement from the little boy and his family who we kept in contact with for a while." All the bottles and messages can be seen at www.janerose.co.uk

Jane's passion for the sea is what drove her to become a MCS Sea Champion: "I'm fascinated by the variety of objects I collect from Colonsay beaches everyday but horrified that so much litter ends up in the sea causing harm to wildlife, polluting the oceans, not to mention spoiling our beautiful beaches. I hope my work encourages people to reflect upon these issues and at the same time, hopefully, raise an awareness of this problem."

Jane and her fellow beach cleaners intend to keep the coastline clear of new deposits of rubbish on a regular basis - and repeat the full coastal clean-up in 2014. Fortunately it will be much easier then, because this year they had to deal with an accumulation since the dawn of time!

Some of the ways Jane and Kevin cleared litter from Colonsay

Monday, 9 September 2013

Loads of litter cleared from Luing!

Beach cleaning volunteer Jane Law tells us about ridding Luing of litter:

 "Last year we decided we were fed up with walking through litter on the rocky shores of the Scottish island of Luing. Very little, if any, rubbish is being dropped from the island - it all washes up mainly on south west facing shores. A lot of it has been there for at least 10 years, so over the last year we've cleared almost all the western side of the island - several miles! Although more litter washes up, it is much easier to do a follow up clean. 

Getting the stuff back to our car has involved long walks and an open canoe! In some places, there were lots of rope and net which were impossible to shift and was holding the soil together, so we cut the loose bits away. However, the star find so far has been an adult toy!!!!"

Loading up a canoe to remove several miles worth of litter from Luing

Thursday, 5 September 2013

"Hang on to your tackle!" in Swansea

Anglers love the Swansea coast which has some of the most popular places for recreational fishing in Wales.

However, underwater clean-ups of popular angling spots by volunteer diver group, Neptune's Army of Rubbish Cleaners, have revealed that some anglers are leaving behind snagged lines, fishing weights and hooks.

Crabs and fish can get entangled in discarded fishing line and become tethered to the seabed. Protected species like the pink sea fan can get covered in line which can take up to 600 years to break down. Rocks, ledges and beaches are left littered with food wrappers and rubbish from some irresponsible anglers.

Keen angler and Sea Champion, Stan Szajda, has been helping us keep the Swansea coast clean by installing and emptying specially designed bins for fishing line and tackle at angling hotspots in and around Swansea.

Stan has encouraged local angling shops to get on board the "Hang on to your tackle" programme by sponsoring bins and distributing our "Top Tackle Tips" to local anglers.

Anyone can take part in "Hang on to your tackle!" Is angling litter a problem in your area? If so, take a look at our support pack to help tackle the problem.

 
Sea Champion Stan with his newly installed angling litter bin at West Pier in Swansea. Look out for other angling bins along the coast!
 

Friday, 16 August 2013

Sea Champion Vicky completes the Big Sea Swim!

Congratulations to Vicky Saunders from Rayleigh in Essex who completed the MCS Big Sea Swim 1km event and raised £325 to help save our seas, shores and wildlife!

Not only has Vicky been swimming for our seas, she regularly helps out at Beachwatch events at Jubilee Beach in Southend and she's organised a Big Blue Day at her work place where they had a dress down day and cake sale raising a further £200 for MCS.

Thank you Vicky!

Sea Champions across the UK are busy planning Blue Mile events. Fancy having a go at kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding? Or perhaps you’d prefer swimming, or surfing, or even walking beside a river? Or what about a “blue” cake sale? Interested? Then check out www.thebluemile.org and help us raise a target of £50,000 to help protect our seas, shores and wildlife.

The Big Sea Swimmers getting ready to take on the challenge!
 
 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Scottish Sea Champions get their running shoes on!


Seven runners, representing seven species of turtle complete the Together for Turtles challenge


Seven Edinburgh based Sea Champions have each ran a marathon between North Berwick and the Tay - a total of 183 miles! All in order to raise funds for our work with turtles through the MCS Turk and Caicos Islands (TCI) Turtle Project.

Each team member of the “Together for Turtles” team ran for one of the seven species of marine turtle worldwide, of which leatherback, green, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley and loggerhead are endangered and visit UK waters. 

The "Together for Turtles" route started in North Berwick, passed Edinburgh, up the entire Fife coastal path to the Tay, and back again to Leith. Each participant ran a 26.2 mile section of this and the next runner carried on from that point on the following day.

Matt Barnes, who represented the Green turtle, and ran from Leith to Kinghorn talks about the highs and lows: 

“After training throughout a heatwave, I set off remembering the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion as I gained pace. However, just after I began, the skies darkened, the thunder roared and the lightening brought torrential rain. This was to be the theme of the week with our biggest team skill being how to run forward while not drowning in the horizontal water hitting our faces!"

"The team were great and brought enthusiasm for the cause but most of all a sense of humour as the conditions were ridiculous. Some highs were team members running past hauled out seals on route and even our trial angling bins on the beach being used by someone as we ran by. Lows were realising the coastal path had eroded onto the beach in some areas meaning we were running on sand! Forget images of Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff prancing on sun kissed shores these were rain soaked runners stumbling on beaches ridden with Sewage Related Debris".

It’s not over yet, Sea Champion Neil Madigan, our very own Chris Hoy, will be cycling the entire route back on the 17th August to cement the challenge in history. So if you haven’t shared, shouted on donated it’s not too late!

If you want to be involved in something similar next year, get in touch with Matt Barnes matt.barnes@mcsuk.org

The Together for Turtles team are still collecting sponsors at www.mcsuk.org/url/togetherforturtles

 

40 tyres collected from Scottish beach clean!

Sea Champions Sarah Conner and Al Reeve, with the help of volunteers, collected a whopping 40 tyres from a summer beach clean at South Queensferry.

The team conducted a 100m Beachwatch survey, recording the types and amounts of litter.

"Looking at the types and sources of litter washing up on our beaches, we can run targeted litter campaigns to influence policy makers and change people's behaviours to try to stop it getting there in the first place" says Matt Barnes, Sea Champions Volunteer Coordinator for Scotland.

Twelve bags of litter were also collected, weighing 11 kilos, and also a plastic patio chair and car exhaust.

More of our beaches need to be cleaned and surveyed! If you'd like to get involved and survey your local beach, sign up here, or get in touch with your Volunteer Coordinator.

40 tyres, a plastic patio chair and car exhaust amongst the litter collected at the South Queensferry summer beach clean!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Surfing Sea Champion writes for MCS

Sea Champion Charlie Johnson from Chippenham has just published the first of several articles for UK surf magazines to inspire sea lovers to take action to look after their surf spots.

"I've been surfing for 4 years, I love the sea and hate the abuse it gets. I especially hate smoking on the beach and littering of course." says Charlie.

Writing for surf magazines is a great way to highlight the fact that surfers can do all sorts of things to look after their waves.

Read Charlie's first article here!

Are you a writer? Are you passionate about saving our seas? If so, get in touch with your Volunteer Coordinator and we can help you get your articles published.


Friday, 26 July 2013

Meet the Brownies!





Sea Champion Natasha Ewins tells us about her experience supporting marine themed activities with the Brownies...


"When a friend asked me to run a marine evening for a group of Brownies, I suddenly had a "like they have on TV" vision. You know, the one where everything turns to chaos—crying children and tantrums galore with you standing at the centre about to have a meltdown? Ok, perhaps that’s a little dramatic—how bad could a group of 7-10 year old girls be? Nonetheless, I realised I was going to need some help!

Luckily there are lots of Sea Champions in the Bristol area interested in teaching children about marine conservation. Enter Sea Champs Emily, Naomi and Helen. Emily was keen to have a chance to coordinate the evening and she did a fantastic job.

We arrived at the village hall and after a quick run through in the car park, a speedy A-Team style set up operation ensued. Shortly after the Brownies arrived, everyone settled and twenty pairs of expectant eyes were upon us.

Emily started us off with a great introduction explaining the work of MCS. Then the girls split into groups. One group donned tabards and litter pickers and helped us clean up our indoor beach for Litter Pick Panic, learning about where the litter had come from and how long it takes to break down. (Quick note, if you ever need to entertain a 10 year old just hand them a litter picker. Cautionary side-bar, this also causes high levels of excitability and shrieking!)

Meanwhile, back in the main hall the other group was discovering how dolphins use echolocation to find their food. The girls made a circle with three of them standing in the centre. One played the dolphin who was blindfolded and two others were fish. To play the game the dolphin shouted "dolphin", the fish shouted "fish" and the dolphin had to try and find the fish. Think Marco Polo with fins!

The two groups switched so everyone had a go at both activities. Then we brought all of the girls back together for "Paint-a-Fish". This is a brilliant campaign that engages the younger generation in the protection of fish stocks by colouring in a fish to be part of a huge virtual fish stock being submitted to the EU. Calm descended upon the hall as the girls furiously coloured away amongst a mass of felt tip pens and googly eyes.

Then at the end of the night there was just enough time to hand out a few MCS badges and stickers and join the brownies as they stood hand in hand in a circle, reciting the Brownie Promise."

A huge thank you to Sea Champion Emily for coordinating the evening and to Naomi and Helen for their brilliant support. Apparently the girls were telling all of their friends at school about it the next day!

If you'd like to find out more about running a similar evening or any of the activities we used then please get in touch with your Volunteer Coordinator.


Sea Champions hosting a "Marine Evening" with their local Brownie group

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Solent is 92Kg lighter when it comes to litter…

Sea Champion Charlie Johnson recalls her beach clean experience: 

“There were smiles all round as the sun finally showed its face just in time for the clean and survey at Bournemouth’s Solent Beach, targeted by volunteers armed with bin bags ready to battle marine litter.

The volunteers split off into groups and embraced the sea air and beautiful sunshine bouncing off the water as they went about their mission to help the environment and keep their beach looking tip top.

Amongst the litter collected were the all too familiar sights of plastic wrappers and bags which cause the environment no end of problems. Then there were the glass shards and bottle tops under rocks and the sand just waiting to cause harm.

With rope, paper and lollipop sticks included in the long list of non biodegradable materials lying around, bin bags were soon filled. Though there was nothing out of the ordinary collected on the day by removing this litter the group have successfully given the ocean and coastline a bit more breathing space and quite probably saved the lives of many of Dorset’s sea creatures. The data collected from that day will also be used to highlight the issues and help MCS take further action.

It took 40 volunteers, from the local area, just over an hour to relieve the beach of 92 kilos of marine litter. Which goes to show—taking just an hour out of your life can make a real difference. We must remember though, when it comes to the environment and litter, it is possible to win a battle, though the war is far from over.”

 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Sea Champion inspires kids with Maya Plass!

More than 300 school children have been learning about the marine environment at the Ecover Schools Blue Mile event in Plymouth. 


Sea Champion Alex Milden joined forces with BBC Springwatch presenter Maya Plass to lead hands-on lessons about seashore creatures for youngsters in a waterfront ‘classroom'.

Linking sport to the environment was a sure way to grab their attention, with kayaking combined with a beach conservation workshop, a Plastics Lab designed by Plymouth University and a mini tour of the National Marine Aquarium.

For many of the Year 6 and Year 7 children, this was the first time they had ever been in a kayak – and it proved a big winner!

Alex kindly donated three full days of his time to lead these children's workshops - a big thank you and well done for making the workshops such a success!

Take a look at a short video of the Ecover Blue Mile schools event here, and photos of the event here.

Would you like to try your hand at kayaking? Or have a go at stand up paddle boarding? Then register for your own Ecover Blue Mile where you can walk, swim or paddle a mile to raise funds to save our seas, shores and wildlife.

Or are you keen to inspire the next generation about our amazing marine wildlife and conservation issues? You can find out about becoming a Sea Champion at www.mcsuk.org/seachampions
 

Sea Champion Alex inspiring kids at the Ecover Blue Mile schools events on the Plymouth waterfront.

Fish Frenzy Quiz Night

 
South West England Sea Champion, Izzie Godden, tells us about the quiz she organised to raise funds for our work...

“After deciding to run a pub quiz to raise money for MCS I picked a date and booked the venue. I contacted Marlin Divers who offered try-dives as prizes. I set up a Facebook page with all the details and shared them at school, in the library and at the community centre.

Writing the quiz was the most time consuming task – not just questions and answers but also finding research material for hosting the event.

On the night of the quiz we arranged the tables and chairs, displayed MCS posters around the room and sorted out our raffle prizes. As people started to arrive we asked them to come up with a team name and buy a raffle ticket - overall we raised £157!”

Well done Izzy—another really popular and well organized event!

 

Izzy organised a free try-dive as a prize for the winning team courtesy of Ross Divers!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Sea Champions complete this year’s first Ecover Blue Mile event!

South West Sea Champions were quick off the mark holding this year’s first Ecover Blue Mile event! To appeal to those who are not so sporty, the team of Sea Champions organised a sponsored beach clean and Beachwatch litter survey at Black Nore Beach near Portishead, raising £200 for MCS.

In addition to the 89 drink containers, 148 bottle tops and 52 fast food boxes, the team also found a rubber duck, a whole fishing net and a vacuum cleaner!

Big thanks to all!

Would you like to hold an Ecover Blue Mile event of your own to raise funds for our amazing seas, shores and wildlife? Visit www.thebluemile.org for more information.

More photos of the UK's first Ecover Blue Mile event here.


A haul of 30 kilos of rubbish in total, including a “Henry” vacuum cleaner!