Students take to Lowestoft and Pakefield beaches to learn about marine pollution
11:25 18 February 2014
Budding young environmentalists from a Lowestoft high school have been taking part in a Europe-wide project to examine how people feel about the issue – and what should be done about it.
A group of year 10 students from Ormiston Denes Academy worked with Cefas and Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) to learn more about the plastics and other rubbish that washes up on our beaches. They completed litter picks in Pakefield and North Denes to find out where the rubbish came from and how long it would take to break down.
During their studies, the 14- and 15-year-olds also made a short film about the items they collected. It has been entered in an international video contest run by the Europe-wide MARLISCO project, which seeks to raise awareness of the problem and promote a joint vision for the sustainable management of marine litter in Europe.
Lorna Collins, of Suffolk Wildilife Trust, worked with the students as part of its Coastal Discovery Project, when they also had the opportunity to work on their video. Among the topics covered was marine litter.
“We went down to Pakefield beach to litter pick and within 18 minutes got masses of different types of plastics,” she said. “All this plastic is turning up on our shores from across Europe. The ocean currents are bringing it across.”
The students took the litter they collected to Cefas in Pakefield, which is part of the MARLISCO project, and worked with fisheries biologist Denise Goldsmith and senior scientist Dr Eva Garnacho to analyse what they had found.
The focus of the workshop was on plastics in a marine environment and the students learned about the impact it had on wildlife and human health if it was not cleaned up.
Dr Garnacho, who is also a member of the MARLISCO steering group, said the aim of the video project was to engage with young people across Europe to find out what their ideas and opinions were about marine litter and what they thought should happen to combat the problem.
She said the students were surprised at the amount and variety of plastics they had found on a small stretch of beach that they had previously thought was clean.
Jill Lockwood, a teacher at Ormiston Denes, said the students had gained a lot from the project.
She said: “Because they live by the sea, they can relate to what they are learning. It is not about something that is only happening a far away country.
“I think they’ve got a lot out of it and I’d like to thank everyone who was involved.”