Isle of Mull Expedition Beach Clean - We Finally Got Back
We finally made it back to the Isle of Mull to collect the remaining bag from our 2018 expedition beach clean. This remote beach is exposed to the open Atlantic and getting the right combination of wind speed and swell is critical to a safe and effective landing of people, along with the removal of debris. We hadn't had the chance over the winter months for obvious reasons and there had been a few windows this spring but the forecast kept on changing. We had tried it one time, but after all the effort to get there the swell was too dangerous to land!
Finally we made a call to go one late afternoon this May - new guide Isla, Luke and Shane headed across last minute. On arrival it's always stunning with the cliffs and waterfalls but we also noticed some swell breaking on the beach which would make landing a little tricky. We also noticed the unmistakable bright colours of new debris that had accumulated, it looked the whole beach had filled up again!!!!
As we arrived by early evening we were very much on the clock to be able to get what we could off the beach then back to Oban (which is around 90min away at 20 knots). We scrambled as best we could to collect everything and then started moving it all out via dingy to the RIB. Just like the first time we visited, we completely filled the boat!! We managed to get all the large bulky items but there was still a lot of smaller plastic and debris that we'd didn't have time to get off. As we lifted the anchor we also had some bottlenose dolphins escorting us back which was cool - just like the ocean saying thank you!!
On the way back to Oban we had a lovely sunset over Mull and just in time to unload everything before dark. The following week we were then able to collect everything via our van and take the council holding facility. It was quite a shock to see the amount we had collected as much of the material from our clean up a few months earlier was still there. We tried to make an estimate of how much we actually collected over the three clean up missions but we were unable to weigh the debris. We had to estimate using the volume of much debris had filled the boat and van. The final total came to ~53m3 of material!
It's a great feeling that we were able to remove so much from these remote beaches, areas where there is stunning coastline and abundant wildlife. Unfortunately due to the currents, prevailing winds and the shape of the islands, they are hotspots for accumulations of marine debris.
The enormity of the task was also one of our reflection points, this beach that took so much effort the first time around to clean up had filled up again in only a year. There are many like it round the islands and we could do this full time and probably still not make a dent in it. For all the efforts, we can't keep cleaning things up, the debris has to be stopped at source which is what many charities, NGO's and policy makers are working on. In the meantime groups like us can keep making a difference and getting this mess off our amazing coastlines and away from our vulnerable wildlife.
Our first large clean was funded by amazing crowdfunder donations and the second and third via the Sea changers charity. We have the assets that our business is happy to donate on occasion for the cause, along with a large group of friends and clients who want to come and help out and make a difference. The question for us, which beaches do we target next and how do we cover the costs of that? We'll think about it over summer and make plans for spring 2020.
See blog links below from our other cleans