Swanpool Beach, Falmouth, Cornwall, UK – Underwater Beach clean-up.

Recently we organised a ‘get together shore dive’ from the Silver Steps on Pendennis, we advertised it on Facebook and had quite a few turn up. Whilst thinking of a follow up we did a dive at Swanpool Beach.

Swanpool is one of our favourite dives for teaching and completing guided dives, it’s easy access and quite shallow. Swimming along the reef we noticed some litter, we usually find golf balls but there was a collection of rubbish.

I thought to myself, ‘I wish I had a bag to pick some of this stuff up with!’. So that gave me an idea, why not organise an underwater beach clean up? I had a word with Pete, the owner of the Cafe and car park, he also thought it was a good idea. Pete immediately penned a ‘Press Release’ for the local papers for August 2012.

We advertised it as an Underwater Beach Clean Up, Diving for Debris, in the paper and on Facebook. I decided to register it with Project Aware and then found out that BSAC were doing their version, the Underwater Litter Pick linked with the Marine Conservation Society, so Nick signed us up for that.

On Thursday I got a call from BBC Radio Cornwall, wanting an interview with us on Saturday morning at Swanpool. I also got a call from BBC Online asking about some details for their website. We had quite a few sign up on the Facebook event page, all we wanted now was good weather.

On Saturday we met the BBC’s roving reporter, Saul, at a very windy Swanpool Beach. The waves were crashing into the shore, the forecast was for it to swing around but it didn’t look promising.

Sunday morning, two divers had cancelled. We went to the shop to load up our gear. Nick brought the BSAC pack which included a small flag, a couple of goody bags and a lot of paperwork. Time to head down and see what Swanpool was like. When we arrived we were relieved to see it was almost flat, PHEW! We met up with any divers we could find for the brief, thirteen divers in all. There are quite a few guidelines regarding collecting litter and also safety concerns which were all covered. Here are a few of the collecting guidelines if you fancy picking some litter up yourself :

  • If it has anything growing on it, leave it
  • If it has been absorbed or partially absorbed into the reef, leave it
  • Any cans, bottles or cups, tip upside down to let anything out
  • Cut fishing lines etc. rather than pulling bits of the reef
  • Floating carrier bags can contain life, invert it to remove life

Names were written down on the roster and off we went to sort our kit out. We all entered the water, after giving Julie our cylinder pressures, the visibility was shocking. We swam out a bit and then descended in about half a metre visibility. Each pair or group went to a different part of the reef to cover as much ground as possible. Julie stayed on shore with the roster and the BSAC paperwork. Luckily the visibility improved to about 5 to 6m around 60m from the shore.

After the dive we collected all the litter together, had a debrief and a cup of tea. Everyone enjoyed the dive and several said they would do it again. We then catalogued the litter. 88 items were recovered including 8 carrier bags, a T shirt, a welly, 17 golf balls and a pile of other bits. The Information has been submitted to both Project Aware and BSAC’s Litter Pick.

Same again in 4 weeks time?