The Jurassic coastline around the East Coast resort of Scarborough is undeniably beautiful.
In many places, the cliffs of mudstone, limestone and sandstones make the shoreline inaccessible to humans. But sadly not to their rubbish.
It’s perhaps not surprising that there is litter here. Not when it’s estimated that between 4.8 million and 12.7 million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year.
Plastic makes up 95% of the rubbish in our seas, mainly in the form of bags, food and drink containers, and fishing equipment; from past studies it is thought that as many as 90% of the world’s seabirds have plastic in their stomachs.
There are several seal colonies along the coast, and it was during the return of a rescued animal that RSPCA officers noticed the levels of litter.
So they have now launched ‘Operation Sweeping Tides’ to try to tackle the issue.
They’re working in partnership with Scarborough Council, the local Sea Life Centre, and dozens of volunteers to clean up the coastline.
It’s a task that would be virtually impossible without the charity’s rescue boats, used to collect the rubbish gathered by the volunteers from secluded coves and beaches.
“This really is a growing problem,” says the RSPCA’s Geoff Edmond.
“There is lots of rubbish and debris out there, we need to get it removed. And it’s washing in, potentially on every tide.”
The grey and common seal colonies at places like Ravenscar, Cayton and Boggle Hole have been recovering well since being decimated by viruses in the early 2000s.
To see that progress set back by littering, would be a bitter blow.
Todd German, who works with rescued seals at Scarborough’s Sea Life Centre,…