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
After a long stretch under Scandinavian skies, it’s wonderful to return to Happybeach again. Though the world seems very different than when I left her.
I don’t claim to have more insight into world politics than the next person, but the current rumblings from a certain orange-tinted president should make us all alert – on many levels.
Of course American legislation doesn’t have a direct impact on my native Baltic waters, nor my adopted Mediterranean ones, but rhetoric is contagious. People all over the world look to the president – and see/ hear him (a position he utterly thrives on), and in doing so they realise that it’s okay to produce these so-called ‘alternative facts’. And if everyone can make up their own facts about the seriousness of human impact on the environment, if they can design truths to suit their own purses or purposes – years of hard work to raise awareness, and struggles to reach agreements, can be quickly be undone. Like so many others, I’m concerned. So, I will keep blurbing on about my findings.
The collection of the day includes:
10 drinking straws (various colours)
1 styrofoam box (for storing fish)
1 pack of cigarettes (soggy, some smoked)
1/2 a used buckshot
3 pop cans
18 plastic bottles
7 separate bottle lids
1 tube of polyfilla (empty)
2 glass medical bottles
Assorted bits of plastic
1 chicken feed bag (empty – for eating chickens)
2 green plastic lids
1 plastic bag
Bits of rope (various shades of green)
Pieces of black irrigation pipe (longest 2m)
1 plastic shovel (green)
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…
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!
Winter has gently arrived in Cyprus. Yet with average sea temperatures of 21 degrees swimming is still possible, and there’s nothing quite like starting the day with a refreshing splash!
Winter also means the start of hunting season – which is a big deal on the island. Around 45.000 permits are issued allowing locals to traipse across woodlands and fields shooting at birds, rabbits and other small creatures on Wednesdays and Sundays. Their leftovers can be found on paths, roads and even the beach. My collections count a far higher number of empty buckshot shells over the winter months..
The news this summer has been filled with disturbing reports stemming from this region, only a couple of days ago 140 refugees stranded at the Akrotiri airbase, so of course looking out at the Mediterranean every morning evokes conflicted thoughts – also about the collected debris, some of which have Syrian labels.
Summer is slipping into Autumn on Happy Beach, the rains have arrived, and fishermen are reappearing on the rocks. Plastic washing up on the shore is still manageable, but it saddens me to consistently discover waste from the fishermen scatted carelessly about the area.
Obviously they have no clue that their remains go back in the sea, become eaten by the fish, and ultimately end up on their own dinner plates.
Collection of the day includes:
6 cigaret butts
1 juice carton
3 pieces of rope
1 small ghost net
1 canister + plastic fishing line
8 bottle tops
2 paper bags
7 bits of plastic bags
10 plastic bottles
2 glass bottles
2 bits of broken glass
1 broken comb
1 plastic blob
1 plastic tub
1 plastic Frappe cup
1 flip flop
2 plastic bags
4 shoes (size child to male adult)
1 razor head
1 sun hat (child size)
1 green straw
2 milk bottles (plastic)
2 clothes pegs
1 baby bottle toy