Just as I was singing the praise of glorious spring; a full size storm hit the island turning the sea inside out for about three days. Winds bring in plenty of dust and sand – possibly the late April Coptic Storm – and wild, wild surf.
When describing the army boxes discovered a few weeks ago – I managed to touch upon the strange sensation that arises when something large, potentially dangerous, is being hauled out of the sea. I’ve found oil drums, EUR pallets, garden furniture and a tractor tire that all made me marvel and fume at the sea’s ability to contain, and man’s ability to be an utterly useless consumer-monster.
But this storm brought in the biggest, most mind boggling object to date: A full size freezer! Plonked right in the middle of Happy Beach by the strong fists of the sea.
These storms never last for long, and there is nothing else to do but pull out the bags and start the collection all over. This time I’ll need a little help with the big stuff…
2 vegetable crates
2 light strips
23 fragments of plastic bags
17 plastic bottles
Piles of styrofoam
2 packets of crackers (Turkish, unopened)
5 soda cans
1/2 EUR palet
1 building block
3 smartie lids
1 green toy tractor (broken)
1 green spade
2 tubes of skin lotion
2 medical bottles, glass
1 industrial size freezer
This spring is proving particularly fickle. Gorgeous, calm days with turquoise waters are quickly replaced by thunder and hail storms, with tempestuous waves to boot. The heavy rains form streams that transports reddish soil downhill from nearby fields directly into the sea – creating a strange looking cocktail as the meet. These fields are used for crops and I regularly see the famers spraying them with pesticides – needless to say these toxins are also being carried into my beloved bay.
And of course there’s plenty of plastic still added to the mix. Recently I stubbled across a disturbing video on the consequences of this problem created by Olio. It claims that 1 in 4 fish contains micro-plastics. This is nothing short of a disaster. But looking over the history of Happy Beach findings – it’s sadly not surprising.
On this gloomy note the collection includes:
* 5 plastic bags
* 3 cigarette ends
* 1 shoe (blue Micky Mouse)
* 1 vodka bottle – complete
* 1 Ouzo bottle 12 – top only
* Assorted plastic bits
* 1 rusty spray can
* 1 plastic plate
* 1 yogurt tub
* 2 syringes
* 1 medical bottle
* 3 fishing floats
* 1 pen – blue
* 1 straw
* bottle tops
* 5 plastic water bottles
* 2 lighters
* 1 knife handle – blue & white
* 5 water bottles
The October sea has been gentle and welcoming until last night, and today huge waves crash against happybeach – bringing familiar unwanted gifts. In the turbulent water a fishing net recently cast out can be spotted drifting further and further away from the shore.
And it’s with utter joy I can report that fellow beach-cleaners have emerged on happybeach and beyond!
Yesterday I spotted my local neighbours busy on happybeach picking up litter by the rocks in big plastic sacks. What a glorious sight 🙂
About 700m down the coast from our home lies the sandy beach of Agia Marina, which has been sadly neglected throughout my time in the area. Occasionally I’ve collected a bag or two on this stretch but the amounts of trash were so vast it wasn’t possible to keep up. Yet a couple of days ago we took a walk on the beach, and discovered that the worst debris had been cleaned, revealing it’s true beauty. Fingers crossed that the increase in tourists visiting this beautiful bay has encouraged the level of care for the area.
Summer is refusing to loosen her hot and very dry grip of Happybeach this year. October is seeing high temperatures and still not a single drop of rain. Pleasant yet disturbing at the same time. Gardens are thirsty and every little gust of wind kicks up clouds of dust. Still it’s great to be back after my travels and exploring the beach with Molly!
Island life carries on as usual. The trees are filling with avocado, olives, lemon, pomegranate, figs, pomelo and bananas – soon ready for picking. And October means the start of hunting season, so sounds of gunshots and howling dogs are to become a fixture of Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.
Happybeach has changed radically over the summer. In addition to the endless piles of rubbish (no big surprise there) the continuous heavy waves have totally restructured the beachside by shifting the sands and bringing out the rocky surface below.
These photos show the same stretch of beach with a year between.
And of course the collecting must go on. It’s discouraging to discover that local tourists are adding to the pollution problem much more than visitors from abroad. One would think that they care for their island and the image it projects when the beaches are covered in trash. But the litter left on the seaside after barbecues and picnics is appalling. Everything from towels to plastic food containers to countless cans and bottles get discarded without a second thought.
Summer is here and a cooling dip in the sea beckons!
Rarely can one enjoy a swim without bumping into bits of plastic bags and styrofoam. Not only does this make the experience unpleasant, but it becomes a very tangible reminder of the conditions suffered by the local marine life.
Strange yet wonderful things are happening to this life on Happybeach.
Over the past two weeks nest upon nest of Sea Turtle eggs have appeared in the sand. Subsequently the Cyprus Wildlife Society came by to document the nests.
They could report that last year the entire bay housed 43 nests – this year they already registered 160 nests. And the sea turtles have been laying one month earlier due to the mild winter. This is an intense increase in numbers and I can’t help wondering how much human interference plays a role. Are we experiencing the consequences of global warming?
Thankfully people all over the world are combating both global warming and ocean pollution. The wonderful 2 minute beach clean movement based in Cornwall managed to organise a national beach cleaning day all over the UK yesterday. As a tribute to this great event I was joined by sound artist Thomas Burø and we did an extra big cleanup, and created a Trash Poem for good measure.
* sheet of styrofoam
* 1 ghost net
* 3 glass bottles (1 broken)
* 1 rucksack
* 1 sheet of paracetamol
* 8 plastic bottles
* 2 shoes
* 1 water pistol
* one doll’s torso
* 6 plastic cups
* plastic bits
* 1 ice cream spoon
* 1 toy rake
* bottle tops
* wine cork
* bubble wrap
* oil canister
* an onion
* an orange
* fishing line
* fishing hook
Tempestuous storms have dictated the mood of Happy Beach for most of 2016. Possibly just reflecting the turbulences taking place in the rest of the world. We see a few days of calm followed by breath-taking roaring waves, high winds, rain and unusual cold.
Naturally the beach is strewn with all shapes and sizes of litter. The largest was the top of a wooden cable spool (1m diameter), and a heavy rope/ fishing net tangle.
The smallest were sadly thousands and thousands of nurdles, shaping the contours of the waves along the beach after the sea settled. These little demons are toxic, dangerous and impossible to collect.
On a lighter note the storms have brought new creatures to the beach. As of yet they are friendly but you never know…
When enjoying the solitude of my beach walks thoughts tend to drift towards Paris. At first they were naturally filled with deep sadness for the lives lost, and affected, by the horrid attacks in November, and currently they are preoccupied with the COP21 conference.
Though voices on the street are impaired by security restrictions, and a nuanced media coverage seems lacking, I hope against hope that energy guzzling/ profiting nations will take heed and realise that climate change is here, it is transforming our collective habitat for good, and we must take action now.
1037 plastic bottle tops found on Happy Beach over the summer
The wonderful activist site Avaaz.com started a virtual climate march in response to the restrictions made in Paris. It’s simple and still going on. Please join if you can. Peace.