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
Happy Beach is blissful. Warm sunny days, calm, crystal clear sea – which is heating up but still below 20 degrees, so only few swimmers venture in. Of course things still get washed up, and left behind, but overall the beach is pretty peaceful.
Apart from an experience a couple of weeks ago. A car had driven onto the beach and was parked right by a long plateau of volcanic rock facing the sea. The driver was very laid back, and nodded as I passed him. As I reached further down the beach I turned to see he had been joined by another car, and the two men were exploring something on the plateau. As I returned they drove off and I saw what had been occupying them: Four long, wooden boxes wrapped in some thick rope. They were painted green and had some army-like looking markings. I tried peek inside one that was upside down and ajar, but it wasn’t possible to see the content. For some reason it felt wrong to try and open them. A car with four men approached, and as I had my dogs, I hurried off. The men removed the boxes but obviously opened one, as later I found the lid discarded on the beach.
From Happy Beach mysteries to global awareness: Today is Earth Day, and great events are taking place all over. To join in the movement we did a Happy Beach clean, and I decided to carry a sign on my back everywhere I go during the day. My remote living doesn’t offer many options of participating in protest marches, so I’ll just have to make up my own.
In Washington D.C. the core of a significant global rally is taking place: the March of Science. Sadly political trends worldwide seem to be subscribing to the dumbing down of people through applying pop politics and comfy, soundbite “information” and fobbing them off as truths. Experts and voices of experience are being pushed aside by those who merely can shout louder. Fortunately there are many who believe knowledge is the only real way forward – for the planet, the oceans and for the human race. For this reason I join the march for science too.
Spring must be my favourite season on the island. Everything is juicy-green from the rain, and fields and hills are dressed in coats of yellow flowers. Pink tinted almond blossoms make you sigh as you pass the delicate trees.
The sea is warming up too – still only 16 degrees C, but I venture a dip, when she permits.
But my ambition is to get even more confident with local waters, so I decided to take a powerboat certificate to get started. It felt good to get to know my way round a small engine driven boat, and touch upon the basics of navigation, as I’ve never mastered anything more powerful than a bicycle!
My instructor took us out to the local nautical attraction: The Blue Lagoon – in the UNESCO protected Akamas area. The lagoon is truly blue, the nature undisturbed by human dwellings – but still we saw upsetting amounts of trash bobbing around in the water – from soft drink cans to plastic fuel canisters to florescent light strips. We salvaged some major sinners, allegedly dumped by local fishermen.
As there haven’t been any big storms for a long while the amounts of plastic drifting onto Happybeach are manageable – nevertheless it all adds up. And this little lull doesn’t trick me into thinking that things are getting better.
This very disturbing article in The Guardian explains some of the damage done by the 8.000.000 tons of plastic dumped in our seas: Plastic Seafood/ Guardian bad news for Moule Frites lovers and Fish ‘n’ Chips addicts. But worse news for marine life and the balance of the ecology…
Lastest collection includes:
* 22 fishing floats
* 1 toilet roll holder
* Plastic bag
* 18 plastic bottles
* A pink boat – broken
* 2 child shoes
* A broken deer (plastic)
* 4 lighters
* A carton of soggy cigarettes
* A small plastic bird
* A Styrofoam box
* Assorted plastic
* 2m black pipe
* Bits of Styrofoam
* 2 small medical bottles (glass)
* 8m sheet of plastic
* 3 raw plugs
* 3 straws
* Rope 2m black, 3m blue
* 2 blobs of engine oil
* A broken garden chair (white plastic)
* 1 filler foam tube
The holiday season has been temperamental so far – bringing plenty of clouds and rain, strong winds but sunny days too. Each time the sea turns turbulent my heart falls due to the endless amounts of plastic rubbish ejected on to the shore. It never stops. It only seems to be getting worse.
An article published in the Guardian on December 23rd paints a very disturbing picture of a water pollution situation in Shanghai . A scene which soon could become familiar to all of us, if we don’t change our appalling consumption habits.
But this supposed be the season merriment.
So, here is a special Happy Beach Christmas song!
One the 1st day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
On the 2nd day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
… and a tube of glue that’s almost empty!
On the 3rd day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
… 2 beach toys, and a tube of glue that’s almost empty!
On the 4th day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
… 3 styrofoam lids, 2 beach toys, and a tube of glue that’s almost empty!
On the 5th day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
… 4 old balls, 3 styrofoam lids, 2 beach toys, and a tube of glue that’s almost empty!
On the 6th day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
…5 golden glow sticks – 4 old balls, 3 styrofoam lids, 2 beach toys, and a tube of glue that’s almost empty!
On the 7th day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
…6 fishy lures – 5 golden glow sticks – 4 old balls, 3 styrofoam lids, 2 beach toys, and a tube of glue that’s almost empty!
On the 8th day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
…7 plastic pegs, 6 fishy lures – 5 golden glow sticks – 4 old balls ,3 styrofoam lids, 2 beach toys, and a tube of glue that’s almost empty!
On the 9th day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
…8 used up lighters, 7 plastic pegs, 6 fishy lures – 5 golden glow sticks – 4 old balls ,3 styrofoam lids, 2 beach toys, and a tube of glue that’s almost empty!
On the 10th day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
…9 medical supplies, 8 used up lighters, 7 plastic pegs, 6 fishy lures – 5 golden glow sticks – 4 old balls ,3 styrofoam lids, 2 beach toys, and a tube of glue that’s almost empty!
On the 11th day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
…10 fishnet floats, 9 medical supplies, 8 used up lighters, 7 plastic pegs, 6 fishy lures – 5 golden glow sticks – 4 old balls ,3 styrofoam lids, 2 beach toys, and a tube of glue that’s almost empty!
On the 12th day of Christmas Happy Beach sent to me:
…11 discarded bottles, 10 fishnet floats, 9 medical supplies, 8 used up lighters, 7 plastic pegs, 6 fishy lures – 5 golden glow sticks – 4 old balls, 3 styrofoam lids, 2 beach toys, and a tube of glue that’s almost empty!
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.
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.