Shark's eggs and plastics found as volunteers clear up Eastney beach after Storm Brendan

LITTER pickers set themselves the mission of ridding the beach of plastics strewn around by Storm Brendan at a meeting of the Southsea Beachwatch this morning.

Saturday, 1st February 2020, 11:16 am
Updated Saturday, 1st February 2020, 1:54 pm

It was the eco group’s monthly get-together for February and the first staged since the adverse weather conditions blew through Portsmouth last month.

Armed with waste bags and clipboards to record their findings, cleaners united at Coffee Cup in Eastney – expecting to stumble upon a host of different pollutants posing a threat to wildlife.

Data collected from the haul will be pooled in a bid to find the source of each item and ensure it does not end up on the beach in the future.

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Members of the UCL Hiking Club travelled to Eastney to take part in Southsea Beachwatch's beach clean. From left, Louise Bresson, 21, Aliya Assembayeva, 32 and club president Elly Chaw, 22. Picture: Byron Melton

Some volunteers came from as far as the capital, including more than 20 members of the University College London Hiking Club.

Its president Elly Chaw, 22, said: ‘We do hikes every weekend and we decided to come here because we’ve never done the beach clean before.

‘We wanted to give back to the community and, when we got here, we were so pleased to see there were so many people and lots of residents involved.

‘Every little effort counts and it’s so heartwarming to see so many people here doing this together.’

Southsea Beachwatch organiser Jane Di Dino, with a table of 'treasures' previously found by her team of litter pickers. Picture: Byron Melton

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Among the finds were bottle caps, pieces of plastic tubing, tennis balls and quirks of nature including so-called mermaid’s purses – spiky cases formerly occupied by shark’s eggs.

For Vanessa Salter, the beach clean was a chance to do good by the environment and catch up with loved ones.

Accompanied by her 25-year-old son, Harley, the 50-year-old from Port Solent said: ‘This is a great way of spending time with the family and educating ourselves about the rubbish on the beach.

Sheree Giacomelli, 59, finds a shark's egg case at the Southsea Beachwatch beach clean in Eastney. Picture: Byron Melton

‘Within minutes we found lots and lots of tiny pieces of plastic – they can be some of the most damaging once they get in the sea and get swallowed by fish.

‘What makes it so interesting is although the beach looks clean at first, when you open your eyes and get closer you become zoned into all the rubbish.’

Known by organisers as 'treasure’, interesting finds from this weekend's beach trawl will go on display in March.

For Southsea Beachwatch organiser Jane Di Dino, this is a fun way to educate litter pickers on the origins of their haul.

Ellie Califano, 29 and Gary Spencer-Humphrey, 34, get stuck into litter-picking at Southsea Beachwatch's beach clean. Picture: Byron Melton

‘Often after storms we find lots of things washed up by the sea, including starfish, which we put back,' she said.

‘The response this time is absolutely brilliant. We’ve had GoodGym Portsmouth come along, a mother and son doing the Duke of Edinburgh awards and a team of volunteers helping us.’

She added: ‘It’s really important we get together to clean places like this and take our own steps when we’re out and about too.

‘Collectively we can have a significant impact on this problem.’

Southsea Beachwatch will next meet on the promenade behind Southsea Rock Gardens, at 10am on Saturday, March 7.