Flotsam and Jetsam

As part of the Clean Cornwall Week (4th-10th April), a handful of volunteers and National Trust rangers set about cleaning the Strangles and Northcott Mouth beaches. All the litter was recorded as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s beachwatch survey programme, where all beach clean data is examined to show what is being washed up and dropped on our beaches.

The Strangles day turned out to be a bit of a wash out, but the 3 that turned up managed to brave the elements and tidy up the beach – see Jen’s blog post below for details and picture. The most interesting item found was what appears to be the remains of a GPS system. We think (see picture below). If anyone else knows any better please comment and correct us.

On Sunday 10 April, a group gathered at Northcott Mouth near Bude. The weather was completely opposite, glorious sunshine and light winds. Armed with litterpickers, bin bags and rubber gloves, the team scoured the beach for litter and by lunchtime…well…you could eat your lunch off it! 


Results for the two beaches were similar in terms of the items picked up, but very different totals. Both beaches are exposed to the prevailing southwesterly winds and Atlantic swells so the litter found was mostly flotsam and jetsam, however The Strangles is more inaccessible and off the beaten track so fewer items were dropped by people whereas Northcott is much more frequented so along with things washed ashore, there was the usual human traffic detritus.

Results for the top ten highest scoring items:
Northcott Mouth
7 large rubbish sacks filled
21 large rubbish sacks filled
129 plastic bottles
94 pieces of plastic
80 pieces of rope
60 pieces of polystyrene
54 plastic lids/caps
18 crisp/sweet/lolly wrappers
14 plastic bags
10 toys/party poppers/fireworks
9 foam/sponge pieces
8 aerosol cans

(476 total for top ten)

585 pieces of rope
528 pieces of plastic
315 pieces of polystyrene
254 plastic lids/caps
74 plastic bottles
65 crisp/sweet/lolly wrappers
58 plastic bags
45 fishing nets <50cm
45 foam/sponge pieces
37 fishing line (anglers)

(2006 total for top ten)

So, what it all boils down to is plastic, plastic and more plastic. There was heaps of the stuff. It takes so long to break down and in the mean time clogs up our beaches. 


Many thanks to all the volunteers who joined us on our beach cleaning missions, the beaches always look so much better for it and they become a much safer place for people and wildlife. 

Time well spent.

North Cornwall NT Ranger team

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