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Ocean Plastic Recovery: Recovering Nets from Bude Bay

In our latest ocean plastic recovery mission we set out along a Cornwall’s northernmost coast from Boscastle to Bude tackling beach clean ups amidst the weather, wind and wave hewn coast.

All along the coast on every beach – as no surprise – we found and removed a myriad of hard plastics and storm-tangled threads of plastic washed ashore in one of our biggest plastic hauls.

boscastle cornwall

Boscastle Harbour - A knot of Crab Pots

Boscastle harbour is a hidden haven hewn into a natural amphitheatre of granite cliffs  dropping into the stormy sea. Heading past the quaint stone-built cottages and the quay we headed out onto the rocky sides of the harbours approach (pictured above) to recover a tangle of nets and shattered crab pots we spotted outside of the harbour.

Whilst the climb down to it was easy – the removal was anything but. The Gordian knot of plastic required some serious knife-slashing and pulling to undo. Every fragment, pot-frame and strand packed up we climbed back up and returned via the a cliff path into the harbour to curious stares from the few braver visitors sitting outside the cafe in drizzle and coats.

beach clean in Cornwall

CrackinGton Beach - A Haven for Nets

Crackington Haven was created by the contortions and folding of molten rock by the Earth’s movements millions of years ago. Leaving dramatic zig-zags rock patterns along the coast all the way to Millook (our next beach).
 
Admist this geological playground of angled ledges and platforms of rocks and past slippages we quickly found many smaller fragments and soon enough found our first larger trawl net and then almost immediately a second on the south side (right above). Packing these into two big 100L dry bags we dragged and threw them back over platforms and ravines to our van back stationed at the cafes. However we had only covered one half so after quickly tagging these finds – we headed back out onto the sands (finding long strands loose amongst the sea lace washed ashore).
 
As we worked our way back towards the northern coves and found a sad sight – several dead gannets – likely a victim of the Avian flu which is rampaging through the most social species of birds. This gruesome spectacle is now a common sight for us on our beach cleans and wouldn’t be the last on this mission. Taking care to avoid the area to stop the spread of the flu we circled around towards the cliffs and in doing so we were rewarded finding a trio of smashed fishing crates and crumpled plastic bottles ready to be relocated into our workshops shredder! Packing this all up we made our final trip back to the van – which was already beginning to fill.
ocean plastic recovery mission

Millook Beach & Chevron Fold - Myriad of Plastics New & Old

Throughout the beach cleans the skies had cleared but the surf still pounded the shores from the storm that had only abated the day before as we drove down past the rocky zig zags of the Chevron Fold in the cliffs above. Exiting the van, the roar of the waves scouring the shore greeted us before we even saw the beach.

With the tide heading we didn’t have long to safely scour the far end of the beach so we headed off and quickly found floats, buoys, plant pots, trawl nets, orange dolly ropes, plastic bottles, nests of fishing gut along with bags of multicoloured unidentifiable shards. 

 

millook haven

The sheer diversity of the plastics we found in this isolated cove was shocking – our small team was alone on the beach but the impact of our fellow humans was rapidly piling up around us. Varying in colour and form we couldn’t help but wonder as we often do, what were these things when new, who used them, who made them and how each piece of plastic became lost and then washed up here to be found by us…

*WOOOOSH – SMASH – SPLASH*

The sea rudely reminded us to get back to work – with a great wind carried smack of sea spray soaking us, our bags and the stones around us. We traipsed back and forth carrying our hundreds of finds before the threat of the tides came true and reluctantly reclaimed them once again.

With a mix of hard plastics & nets we excitedly looked forward to seeing what we could create from our finds in this wildest of wild coastal beaches.

arial view of widemouth bay in cornwall

Widemouth Bay - Plastic carried by WInd and Waves

With the van fuller than expected we barely managed to climb the sheer road out of the valley and over to the wide expanse of wild waves and open sand of Widemouth Bay.

With the exposed nature of this stretch of coast which faces west we expected to find a heap of plastics brought in by the full force of the Atlantic Ocean.

And we weren’t disappointed and found several large net fragments both on the strand line of the tide and some small pieces sheltering among the sand dunes. All of which we can repurpose into our recycled fishing net bracelets.

Summerleaze beach in Bude

Bude - SUmmerleaze

Arriving late in the day in Bude as the winter sun faded – we headed down between the river and canal onto Summerleaze Beach as the high tide withdrew revealing a strand line of trawl net fragments braided into the sea lace sea weeds, micro plastics in little lines and jade green trawl nets sitting on the sand like a stranded deep-sea behemoth.

With a little help from a large tow rope we got this huge net off the rivers edge and up through the dunes into the carpark where with a bit of pushing we managed to squeeze it into the van along with the rest of the finds.

With the mission complete and the sun setting we headed back over Bodmin Moor through the darkness with a van full of ocean plastics and feeling happy to have done something good! 

What WE MADE: Turning Trash into Treasure

Turning the fishing nets and other plastics we recovered into our jewellery and bracelets is a labour of love. Real ocean recovery means some really hard work – washing, drying and thoroughly sterilising (meanwhile trying to remove the ever present fine sand) – of every single fragment salvaged from the beach cleans before we can even begin making anything!  

Once all safe we begin sorting out nets smooth enough to repurpose into bracelets-  and the rough gnarled nets, ropes, line and hard plastics  to recycle into beads. Once sorted its all hands on deck to begin the work of processing, shredding and making.

This is one of the best bits – seeing something that started out as a rubbish on the beach or in the ocean transformed into something someone can cherish and last more than a lifetime.

Check our ocean plastic creations out!