A Return To Skye

This May the SCCU crew and an enthusiastic group of volunteers returned to Skye to Beach Clean. We were in familiar territory, heading back to the area of coastline that we visited 3 times last year, one of those being for our epic 24-hour beach clean.

On previous visits, we have concentrated on just one beach, a place where we witnessed some of the worst plastic pollution that we have seen so far. On our first day, we returned to that beach for a day, to continue removing the plastic that has been building up over decades. On a positive note, there was very little evidence of bigger items washing in over winter. However, this beach has a long way to go before it looks anything like it should and mostly this is due to the breakdown of plastics into tiny fragments, that are so difficult to remove.

On our second day, we headed about 1km along the coastline to a new area of coast. This beautiful beach is difficult to reach by land and most human visitors arrive by boat. Sheep and wildlife are the main residents along this stretch of coastline.

Our boat Curlew was a huge asset over the weekend and was able to ferry all the gathered rubbish back to a designated area for collection.

We were joined on our first afternoon by a group of young lads from Team Otter. This organisation is run by the International Otter Survival Fund and is a group of local children who are working towards cleaning up their environment, as well as reducing their environmental impact. They were a fantastic help, and we look forward to joining forces with them again on our next visit.

We were also once again supported by local organisation Skye Beach Cleans, who work tirelessly to help clear Skye’s beautiful coastal areas of marine litter. They are always on hand for advice, as well as being responsible for organising the disposable of all that we collected. Thanks also to the Highland Council, for providing the skips and for making sure that anything that can be recycled, will be.

Our team of amazing volunteers spent a very long day on the second beach and by the end of the day, the pontoon we were offloading the rubbish on to, was completely full.

Our beach clean coincided with the Surfers against Sewage Paddle Out Protest, so one of volunteers organised a mini protest in solidarity.

The weather on both days started out misty but gave way to beautiful blue skies and warm sunshine by the afternoon. We also made time to swim on our final day, in the most gloriously (and refreshing) clear water, which was followed by cake!

The total weight removed over the weekend was a staggering 3 tonnes worth of rubbish. 3 tonnes of plastic pollution that we have been able to prevent from degrading further, stopping it from producing microplastics that will be near impossible to remove from the environment. 3 tonnes of plastic that might have gone on to negatively impact wildlife and livestock.

Finally, we want to say a huge thank you to everyone that made this weekend possible, from our amazing beach cleaning volunteers, local residents who joined us, the kayaking group that gathered up piles of rubbish for us to remove, Team otter, young Peter for helping us out, taking drone footage and selling us eggs! Thanks to Peggy from Skye Beach cleans for her local knowledge and support and to the local crofters!

We are now looking forward to returning to Skye in August.          

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