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.
The old saying “No News is Good News” applies in many situations – but unfortunately not when it comes to the Happy Beach saga. Though I’m keeping fairly quite this summer, it isn’t due to the fact that plastic consumption has dramatically decreased or that people have suddenly decided to use bins instead of the sea.
Unfortunately there is plenty to do on the beach, though the story does seem to continue along the same strain.
The sea has been very choppy for a few weeks producing impressive waves that crash onto the shore – and uninvited passengers jump on for the ride. Plastic waste intertwines with seaweed leaving a grim looking border on the seaside.
The occasional oddity is washed up with the detritus, such as half a watermelon or a couple of onions.
The good news is that sea turtles are still laying! There are more than 15 nests on Happy Beach alone. As hatching time approaches I’ve been taking nightly walks accompanied by the most helpful and enchanting full moon – but not sightings yet.
A kind friend is doing the same on a nearby beach, and had the amazing luck to spot a couple of turtle ladies placing their precious loads in the sand. The dear things bravely confront both turbulent waters and plastic tainted nesting areas to lay their eggs.
The collection of the day includes:
* A yellow water pistol
* 3 glass bottles
* 5 juice cartons
* 2 odd socks
* plastic pipe
* a paint brush (incl. grey paint)
* 8 plastic bottles
* a sachet of sunscreen (factor 15)
* a light bulb (complete)
* plastic bits/ bags
* a silicon container
* aluminium cans
* 9 plastic coffee cups
* a feed sack
* a watermelon
* 2 onions
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…
2016 made a tempestuous entry on the island. The New Year rolled in at midnight on heavy rains and meter high, roaring waves. As usual the storms bring in plenty of debris from near and far, which calls for wellies, a warm scarf and a good sense of humour.
I’m still amazed, and disheartened, at the sheer quantities of rubbish drifting onto these shores – forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but the problem remains. As long as we base such a vast amount of our daily consumption on disposable items made of plastic, styrofoam and aluminium it will only get worse.
Every day I’m confronted with things we use and throw away… why? Because we can just purchase a new one, and another new one, and another, without giving a thought to “the old”. The old doesn’t exist as soon as it’s discarded. Like magic, right? Wrong. It’s very wrong. And the planet is rapidly changing because of this collective material blindness.
New Year is a time for new beginnings – we could begin 2016 by keeping the old.
Collection of the day:
* Assorted plastic bags (all sizes, pink, white & transparent)
* 2 shoes
* Broken bucket (red)
* 1 tube of toothpaste
* 2 toothpaste tops
* 1 letter F
* 25 plastic bottles
* 2 fishing floats
* 1 fish shaped fishing tackle
* 8 straws
* Assorted pieces of styrofoam
* 4 yoghurt pots
* 3 aluminium can
* Assorted pieces of plastic
* 4 pieces of rockwool
* 1 water blaster (broken)
* 1 table leg
* 6 plastic cups
* 12 pieces of string (multi colours)
* 3 balloons
12.2kg of litter lifted off the Happy Beach point today!
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.
After longer spell abroad it’s a joy to return to a hot, summery Happy Beach. The sea is turbulent and, as always, endlessly attempting to discard our rubbish back on the shore. One totally heartwarming homecoming event is; that the turtle nests are hatching!! We had a visit from the Cyprus Wildlife Society today, who register nests, and dig out the hatched eggs to see the progress.
This is such exciting news, and as it turns out, the nests seem to be doing well. We marked off the nests when we found them 6 weeks ago with sticks to try to protect them from playful visitors and the occasional car driving on the beach. Now the baby turtle are making their epic journey into the sea. Here are some tiny turtle tracks…