Marine Litter Monitoring: June

From 24 June to 3 July 2020, researchers at Sustainable Seas Trust completed the fourth survey of the WIOMSA marine litter monitoring project. The beach surveys took place on the Cape Recife and Bluewater Bay beaches in Port Elizabeth, during level three of South Africa’s COVID-19 Lockdown.

After an initial clean-up, the researchers collected litter daily along the beaches for ten consecutive days. They then cleaned, counted, weighed and grouped the litter into specific categories. The results determined how much litter accumulated daily on the beaches.

At Cape Recife, about 270 new items of litter were found on the beach every day. When accounting for the area surveyed, this amounts to about 54 new items per 100 m of beach every day! At Bluewater Bay, we found 139 items per day. That amounts to about 27 items per 100 m of beach every day.

“This survey was interesting because it seems that there was less litter at Bluewater Bay beach during this stage of the lockdown. This makes sense because most of the litter we find there comes from beachgoers and the Swartkops river,” says SST researcher Toshka Barnardo. “But we found similar amounts of litter before lockdown at Cape Recife when compared to the litter found during this survey. At Cape Recife most litter washes up from the sea, and thus was not as heavily influenced by lockdown as Bluewater Bay.”

The following are the survey results:

Cape Recife:

Total number of items found over 10 days: 2708

% of beach litter made up of plastic: 58%

Top 5 items found:

  1. Fishing line (412 items)
  2. Hard plastic fragments (391)
  3. Plastic film fragments (389)
  4. Fishing rope/string (372)
  5. Food wrappers (232)

Bluewater Bay:

Total number of items found over 10 days: 1385

% of beach litter made up of plastic: 83%

Top 5 items found:

  1. Polystyrene fragments (604)
  2. Polystyrene food containers & cups (92)
  3. Cigarettes (92)
  4. Food wrappers (85)
  5. Plastic film fragments (66)

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