What is found on the strandline - plastic

23 January 2021 | Posted in Ella Garrud , Marine
What is found on the strandline - plastic
Beach clean © Miles Davies

By Ella Garrud

Living Seas Officer

The strandline is the high water mark on a beach where waves dump materials which can later be found by discerning beach combers.

Unfortunately, there is one common find we wish wasn't there.


Sadly, an almost guaranteed find in the strandline of any beach is human-made materials, and this is most commonly plastic. Globally, it is thought that 8 to 13 million metric tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year, where it can last for hundreds of years without ever truly degrading. Plastic will simply break down into smaller and smaller parts and is likely to be eaten by any number of marine creatures, which can cause them to choke and die. Plastics can also entangle and drown marine life, and chemicals that leach from plastics pollute the ocean with long lasting effects.

Beach Clean Waste Rye Harbour Nature Reserve© Emma ChaplinSussex Wildlife Trust

Plastics which wash up from the ocean onto the strandline continue to pose a threat to marine life. This is why it’s so important to do a beach clean every time you visit a beach. Even if you pick up just five items, you are helping to make a difference. In 2019, Sussex Wildlife Trust beach clean volunteers collected nearly 19,000 pieces of litter from beaches up and down the Sussex coastline. The vast majority of these pieces were plastic and came from items such as plastic bottles and bottle caps, discarded fishing line, food wrappers and plastic bags.

Our beach cleans are currently on hold due to coronavirus restrictions but keep an eye on our social media for news on when they can resume. While you wait, you can still do you part – when at the coast, do a quick litter pick and always leave the beach cleaner than when you find it.

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