Author: Laura Evans

The Problem of Period Plastic

Unfortunately, there is such a taboo surrounding periods that we don’t talk openly and honestly about the issues surrounding periods and period plastic.

In the UK a staggering 200,000 tonnes of sanitary products end up in landfill EVERY YEAR. Most conventional products contain plastic, 90% of a sanitary pad and 6% of a tampon is plastic and let’s not forget the packaging and plastic tampon applicators too. These products can take over 500 years to break down.

Did you know – around 2 billion menstrual items are flushed down Britain’s toilets every year? This causes sewer blockages and many of these products end up on our beaches and in our seas! Pads, tampons and applicators are the 5th most common item found on European beaches

Thinking about our health and the environment

As well as being bad for the environment, sanitary products often contain a cocktail of chemicals some of which are linked to breast cancer and infertility. A study of tampons in the US found a range of chemicals including methylene chloride which is commonly found in paint stripper! Manufacturers don’t have to list the ingredients on their products which means many product users aren’t aware of the harmful chemicals they are exposing themselves too.

The cheapest products are often the ones with the most potential to damage our health and the environment.

So what are the eco-friendly alternatives?

  • Menstrual Cups – these are soft, flexible cups made from of medical grade silicone or rubber. They are worn internally like tampons and should last 5-10 years.
  • Period pants – are underwear that you can wash and reuse again for 2-3 years.
  • Reusable pads – are used in the same way as the disposable option however, they can be washed and re-used again for years.
  • Organic pads and tampons – are single use products that are made from cotton rather than plastic. Look for products that are 100% organic cotton and avoid tampons made from rayon, a cotton and rayon mix and anything that is fragranced. Do you like to use a tampon with an applicator? There are a range of re-usable applicators available.

Changing to new products might seem scary but many brands have testimonials on their websites to help you chose the right product for you. You could always change to organic pads or tampons if you aren’t ready for re-usable products just yet!   

REMEMBER – whichever product you decide to use remember to change or wash it regularly to reduce the chances of toxic shock syndrome

If you would like more information on periods, period plastic, tackling period poverty and eco-friendly options visit the Women’s Environmental Network website –  https://www.wen.org.uk/our-work/environmenstrual/

August Marine News

WALES

Skomer Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) celebrates 30 years 

Designated a Marine Nature Reserve in 1990 the zone is the only one of its kind in Wales. Over the past 30 years a wide range of stakeholders from the academic, commercial and recreational sectors have worked together to achieve the best outcome for marine wildlife. Scallops are protected by the MCZ and have increased seven-fold since the designation.

UK 

Microplastics in the Atlantic Ocean could weigh up to 21 million tonnes!

Research carried out by the UK’s National Oceanography Centre suggests that there is enough plastic in the Atlantic ocean to fill 1,000 container ships. The researchers collected seawater samples on an expedition from the UK to the Falkland Islands and detected up to 7,000 particles per cubic metre of seawater.

Earth has lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice in the last 30 years  

Scientists based at Leeds and Edinburgh universities and University College London have discovered that a total of 28 trillion tonnes of ice has disappeared since 1994!  The loss of ice can cause rises in sea levels and reduces the Earth’s ability to reflect solar radiation leading to further warming.  “There can be little doubt that the vast majority of Earth’s ice loss is a direct consequence of climate warming”.

WORLD

Dead dolphins wash up on beach after Wakashio oil ship deliberately sunk 

A day after the controversial sinking of the Wakashio oil ship dozens of dead dolphins and porpoise have washed up on the beaches of Mauritius. There has yet to be an announcement of exact cause of death by social media images and videos shows oil covering the skin and blowholes of some of the stranded animals.

It’s Pupping Time

The seal pupping season is almost here and soon females and their fluffy white pups will be spotted along the Welsh coast.

Living Seas Seal by Sarah Perry

Atlantic Grey Seal © Dr Sarah Perry

Atlantic grey seals are marine mammals that are closely related to bears! They are one of the rarest species of seals and around 40% of the world’s population is found in the UK.

Grey seals have a very distinctive head and their scientific name (Halichoerus grypus) means “sea-pig with a hooked nose”. Males are dark with light patches and have an arched roman nose. Females are light with dark patches and they have a smaller, straighter nose. Female grey seals can live up to 35 years old however, males only live to around 25 years old.

Unlike whales and dolphins, seals spend their lives moving between the land and the sea. They haul out of the water at sites called ‘rookeries’ where they rest, breed and moult. They return to the sea to feed and will eat a variety of fish including sand eels and cod as well as crustaceans, squid and octopus. They can dive to depths of 30m-70m in search of food. 

Seal Pup © Paul Board

Female grey seals reach maturity around 5-6 years old and will give birth to a single pup between late August to October. The pups are typically born on sheltered beaches or in sea caves, away from human activity. Pups are born with white coats, called langu, and are nursed by their mothers for about 17 to 18 days. In this time the pup gains 2kg of weight a day due to the high fat content (60%) of its mother’s milk.

Females must still forage for food whilst nursing and will leave their pup alone to do so. If you find a seal pup on the beach then keep your distance, the mother is most likely in the water nearby. Pups are poor swimmers so should never be chased into the sea. If the seal pup is disturbed by humans or dogs the mother may prematurely abandon it.

If you are worried about an injured or possibly sick seal pup then please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. DO NOT attempt to intervene yourself.

If you are worried about an injured or possibly sick seal pup then please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. DO NOT attempt to intervene yourself.

July Marine News

Wales 

New parasites discovered in shore crabs 

Researchers from Swansea University have discovered two, new parasites in crabs found in Swansea Bay. These new parasites could have potentially damaging effects on other marine species as well as fisheries.

UK 

Rare albatross spotted off Yorkshire Coast

At the start of July a black-browed albatross was spotted near Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire. Most of the world’s breeding population of the albatross are found in the Falkland and South Georgia Islands in the south Atlantic. This is only the second recorded sighting in Europe.

“Missing” Scottish dolphin found off Isle of Man

Moonlight was last seen by researchers in Scotland in the Moray Firth in 2018. In September 2019 she gave birth to a calf in the waters off the Isle of Man but she was only recently identified by the University of Aberdeen team after they saw a photo of her in a social media post!

World 

North Atlantic right whales now classed as critically endangered

This month the North Atlantic right whale has been reclassified on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as critically endangered. Still struggling to recover from over three centuries of whaling, this species is now one step away from extinction.

Polar bears could be lost by 2100

A study has shown that if we don’t do more to tackle climate change then polar bears could become extinct by 2100. The scientists involved in the study state that declining sea ice is likely to decrease polar bear numbers and some populations may have already reached their survival limit.

Books for Ocean Lovers Part 2

When our Living Seas Team started putting together a list of must-read books for ocean lovers we had so many recommendations that we couldn’t fit them all into one article! It is now time for our second list of books for marine enthusiasts. So, sit back with a cup of tea and let these authors take you on an ocean adventure.

If you missed the first edition then click here!

The Silent World – Jacques Cousteau  

Often referred to as the pioneer of marine conservation Jacques Cousteau chronicled his early underwater adventures, with co-diver Frederic Dumas, in the memoir “The Silent World”. Discover sunken ships and treasures, re-live their shark encounters and early experiments with the aqua-lung.

Ceredigion Coast Path

Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans – Sylvia Earle

Slyvia Earle is a marine biologist and former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In Sea Change, Slyvia documents three decades of underwater adventures including diving with humpbacks whales, exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the destruction caused by oil spills.

The Salt Path – Raynor Winn

This life-affirming true story follows Raynor and her husband Moth as they walk the 630-mile South West Coast path after discovering Moth is terminally ill and losing their home and livelihood. This inspirational memoir deals with grief and the healing power of the natural world.

Ocean of Life – Callum Roberts

Take a tour beneath the waves with marine conservationist Callum Roberts and explore the richness of life in the deep. He also documents the impacts humans have had on the oceans from warming seas to ocean acidification as well as how we can restore them to life.

The following books are suitable for mini marine biologists.

Under the Sea – Fiona Patchett

Rubbish collected by Living Seas Volunteers

What creatures live at the bottom of the sea? How do seahorse swim? This colourful book provides fascinating information on the animals that live beneath the waves and is suited to children who are beginning to read on their own.

What a Waste: Rubbish, Recycling and Protecting our Planet – Jess French

This informative book for children will educate young conservationists about how our actions affect the planet, how to turn waste into useful products and everyday changes that can help our planet.

June Marine News

Wales

Post-mortem tests carried out on fin whale stranded on the Dee Estuary

The young fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), thought to be around a year old, had stranded three times over two days. After stranding for the third time the whale died and a post-mortem was carried out by Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme – UK. Findings suggest that the whale died as a result of injuries sustained from stranding and the calf was also judged to not have eaten for some time.

Easing of some lockdown restrictions sparks a rise in litter in Wales

The five mile travel rule has meant people are able to travel to beauty spots and has resulted in a staggering increase in littering. Volunteers are struggling to to cope with the amount of litter which can have a devastating effects on wildlife. Keep Wales Tidy are asking people to take their litter home with them.

UK 

Seahorses return to Dorset coast amid lockdown

16 Spiny Seahorses (Hippocampus guttulatus) have been recorded off Dorset by the Seahorse Trust. This is the largest number the Trust has recorded since 2008 and the first live individuals since 2015. This could be potentially be due to the restoration of the seagrass thanks to reduced boat mooring.

Reusable containers safe during Covid-19 pandemic 

More than 100 scientists have signed a statement that based on the available science and guidance reusable products such as travel mugs can be used safely during the pandemic by employing basic hygiene. Scientists advise that consumers wash reusable items thoroughly with hot water and detergent or soap.

World  

Whale-watching boat noise found to disrupt mother and calf resting times

A study has found that noise from whale-watching boat engines could be effecting humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) mother’s and calves while they stop to rest on their migrations. As noise increased mother’s spent less time resting, their breathing rate increased and they swam faster.