Marine Litter and Marine Wildlife Loss

If you met Orsom the Octopus, Cassius the Crab, Deepa the Dolphin, are taking part in the 3P Pledge Champion Award or just simply want to find out more ways that you can tackle marine litter and marine wildlife loss from your home, here are some ideas:

Don’t forget only the 3P’s go into the toilet – Pee/Wee, Poo & Paper –Toilet Paper only. Try to remind everyone else to not forget the 3P’s! Everything else including flushable, biodegradable wipes, period products, nappies, cotton buds, contact lenses, plasters all cause pipe blockages, resulting flooding and can end up in the rivers, the sea and on beaches. Make the 3P Pledge today, become a 3P Champion for where you live and take part in the 3P Pledge Champion Award

You could eat less fish. Much of our fish we eat comes from large industrialised commercial fishing, some of which is illegally targeting endangered species and over-fishing huge areas of the sea, not only threatening wildlife but also local fishing communities wholly dependent on small catches. Also the millions of sharks, whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, turtles and seabirds that are caught in ‘bycatch’ – where species are caught indiscriminately in fishing nets/on hooks is shocking. Additionally the amount of fishing nets discarded or broken off in the sea, also contributes to huge loss of marine wildlife through becoming entangled or through ingestion of the broken down related microplastics from the nets, through the food chain. Wild Planet Explorers believes that everyone should consider very carefully what they buy and how it impacts wildlife, whether that be here or abroad, always trying to be informed as to the sources of their purchases.

If you do eat fish, wherever you are, look for the logo of the Marine Stewardship Council on products you buy in the supermarket or in restaurants. This fish is regarded as sustainable although be aware there is still much discussion around how sustainable this fish is (see further links below).

You could find out more about the Great Nurdle Hunt – nurdles are small plastic pellets about the size of a lentil. Billions are used each year to make our plastics and end up on our shores and in seas through spilling & leakages. Find out more and how you can help at www.nurdlehunt.org.uk

You could help out at a beach clean as volunteers – lots are happening around Scotland and the UK. Visit www.mcsuk.org to find out more.

You could become Sea Champions for the Marine Conservation Society – www.mcsuk.org.

You could organise your own beach, river or litter pickup. For beaches visit www.mcsuk.org. For help and info on other litter clean ups do visit  http://www.keepbritaintidy.org/  or www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org throu

Play your role in reducing the greenhouse gases being released into our atmosphere, which are acting like a blanket around our planet, trapping the heat from the sun and causing our land, sea and air to warm (global warming) and thus causing changes to our weather patterns – climate change. These changes are negatively impacting many wildlife and habitats across the planet right now. Consider what you do in your daily lives that causes greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane to be released from your home energy (choose renewable focused providers), your use of cars, planes, how far your food, clothes and items have travelled via transport and the resulting emissions, choosing reuse over new as much as possible (secondhand, recycle, reuse). Think carefully about your impact on the planet as you make choices throughout your life.

Recycle all your drinks packaging and plastic packaging in public bins or at home AND try to use as little plastic as you can. No more plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic toothbrushes, (try bamboo), disposable razors (swap for reusable razors), disposable period products (there are now lots of reusable alternatives to disposable tampons as well as washable material sanitary towels). Sign petitions to support bans on single-use items including plastic ones.

Treat yourself to a reusable takeaway cup or a flask cup for those teas and coffees on the run and a reusable water bottle. Plastic bags are also the common type of litter found in the stomachs of whales and dolphins and turtles mistake them for jellyfish, one of their main food sources so go for a reusable bag.  There are lots of places you can buy these now online and in local zero waste shops. Here are some more brilliant ideas about how to live without plastic from Marine Conservation Society’s tips on living without plastic & you can also try their Plastic Challenges too!

Reduce your contribution to microplastic pollution in our seas. Plastic pollution in our rivers & seas is increasing daily which is a risk to wildlife and us. Whether it be large items of plastic polluting the sea already mentioned or microplastics (e.g. microbeads from scrubs, nurdles (plastic pellets spilled by/leaking from industry , microfibres from washing clothes, small bits of plastic from the breakdown of large bits of plastic – plastic bags, bottles), you can play a huge role in reducing plastic pollution.

Add your name to this petition to install microfibre filtering systems in all washing machines –https://www.mcsuk.org/campaigns/microfibrecampaign-home

While microbeads are now banned from cosmetic products (eg scrubs) & toothpaste, they are not yet banned from washing powders, dishwasher & other cleaning products.

Check to see if your product contain any these that make up microbeads: (the list is not comprehensive, but it’s a good start):

polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl. Look out for petitions on banning them from products coming up soon!

Get involved in Surfer’s Against Sewage’s (SAS) Plastic Free Community Initiative, from schools to cities to coastline communities, you can find out more here on the SAS website

Find out more about drinks packaging deposit schemes & why littering is massively reduced where they are. APRS and their Have You Got the Bottle campaign, together with many partners, successfully campaigned to bring a deposit return system for drinks packaging to Scotland which will be here soon. Find out more about the deposit return scheme here.

Explore and Learn!

You could learn more about the wildlife that needs help, why not visit the Wild Planet Explorers Nature Activity Search to find your local nature reserve, national park, nature activity event.

You could explore the beach for wildlife and while there find out if your beach needs a clean! While there, make sure you go rockpooling & meet the wildlife who may need your help. Here are some fab rockpooling tips: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Or why not try some of these new marine Citizen Science opportunities:

Or why not go further and explore the wider ocean habitat of the species you are trying to save and maybe get the chance to meet dolphins, whales, seals, sharks and seabirds all around Scotland on boat trips & from the land. You don’t have to go abroad! Always choose a boat trip that is committed to not disturbing dolphins. In Scotland it’s the Dolphin Space Programme (DSP) or the WiSe scheme (Wildlife Safe). Check when booking, here are some ideas:

  1. Chanonry Point viewing from the beach on the Black Isle, check tide times and more info at Chanonry Point dolphins.
  2. Whale and Dolphin Conservation Centre in Spey Bay (www.wdcs.org)
  3. Firth of Forth wildlife watching boats leave from South Queensferry e.g. The Maid of the Forth. Dolphins and whales are becoming more frequent visitors but you may see a porpoise as well as seals and many amazing seabirds including puffins!
  4. Dolphin and wildlife watching trips sail from Banff, Macduff, Buckie, Cromarty, Lossiemouth, Nairn, Findhorn, Inverness, Avoch (pronounced Och), Portmahomack & Wick. Remember, dolphins are wild animals so none of the boat trip operators can guarantee sightings.
  5. You can see whales and dolphins around many of the Scottish Islands. Check out the Hebridean Whale Trail at https://hwdt.org/the-hebridean-whale-trail or you can visit the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust website for more info www.whaledolphintrust.co.uk. You can also see whales & dolphins around Orkney & Shetland Islands – visit www.orkney.com and www.shetland.org for more information

You could donate and help charities who work from the UK but help the seas and the wildlife in the UK and internationally, here are a few (please contact me if you would like to add any group or charity):

Albatrosses

Albatrosses – If you have enjoyed Wild Planet Explorers Ava the Albatross session or have been inspired to do more for albatrosses by pictures you have seen on Blue Planet II recently, here are some ways you can help:

You can raise money for the RSPB and support the Albatross Task Force with your donations. Find out more about the Albatross Task Force here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/fun-and-learning/for-kids/facts-about-nature/facts-about-birds/saving-albatrosses/

As with other marine life, you could consider eating less fish.

As mentioned, much of our fish we eat comes from large industrialised commercial fishing, some of which is illegally targeting endangered species and over-fishing huge areas of the sea. Also millions of sharks, whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, turtles and seabirds are caught as ‘bycatch’ – where species are caught indiscriminately in fishing nets/on hooks. Additionally the amount of fishing nets discarded or broken off in the sea, also contributes to huge loss of marine wildlife through becoming entangled or through ingestion of the broken down related microplastics through the food chain.

Wild Planet Explorers believes that everyone should consider very carefully what they buy and how it impacts wildlife, whether that be here or abroad, always trying to be informed as to the sources of their purchases.

If you do eat fish, wherever you are, look for the logo of the Marine Stewardship Council on products you buy in the supermarket or in restaurants or refer to the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide here: https://www.mcsuk.org/goodfishguide/

This fish is regarded as sustainable although be aware there is still much discussion around how sustainable fish with certain logos on them are (see further links below).

If you want to learn more then here are more links:

Marine Conservation Society, https://www.mcsuk.org/ocean-emergency/sustainable-seafood/about-the-good-fish-guide/

Sea Shepherd Society – https://seashepherd.org/ and their film – 

WWF overview of how they are working for sustainable fishing wwf.panda.org

RSPB marine policy work www.rspb.org.uk

Greenpeace’s often asked questions at www.greenpeace.org.uk

Tigers

If you have enjoyed Wild Planet Explorers Jungo the Tiger session or want to help stop further deforestation & decline of tiger populations in palm oil plantation areas, here are a few ideas how you can help from your home:

You, your class, your family, group or business could become Forest Tiger Champions and complete Wild Planet Explorer’s Forest Tiger Champion Award. You can make change happen from your home, school or business. To find out more, please email joannamcfarlane@wildplanetexplorers.co.uk

To help forest wildlife in this country as well as abroad, always choose FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified or recycled tissue and toilet paper products. FSC products are derived from sustainable, well managed forests and/or recycled materials. Look for the logo on products e.g. toilet tissue, tissues.

You could check all the products you buy to see if they contain palm oil or not and try to buy those with no palm oil first or if you have no choice, those with sustainable palm oil. Some products have an RSPO logo (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) whose aim is to work towards sustainable palm oil. Visit rspo.org. There has been some criticism of the not-for-profit organisation RSPO recently for not doing enough to ensure sustainability across palm oil production, you can read the latest via Ethical Consumer or other Palm Oil websites if you are interested. Also look for the Green Palm Sustainability logo, find out more at http://www.greenpalm.org/.

Look for Rainforest Alliance-Certified  coffee, chocolate & tea, you can see products that are certified at www.rainforest-alliance.org.

You can also find out how well the manufacturer’s of your products fare with palm oil usage via WWF’s Palm Oil Scorecard or Ethical Consumer’s Palm Oil Scores 

You could visit the WWF website to find out more about their WWF Tiger Protector offer which includes a personalised children’s book and up to date booklets on tiger conservation: www.wwf-adopt-a-animal.co.uk.

You could visit the RSPB website to find out more about their Sumatran Tiger Conservation work www.rspb.org.uk.

You could read up on saving wild tigers at Panthera’s Tigers Forever program www.panthera.org

Red and Grey Squirrels

If you enjoyed Wild Planet Explorer’s Little Red and Big Grey the Squirrel session or would just like to do more to help red squirrels, here are a few ideas:

You could encourage others not to feed grey squirrels and just enjoy watching them!

You could encourage others not to bring new species of plants and animals from other countries into the UK as sometimes they can be devastating for plants and animals already living here, as with the grey squirrel. If you want to find out more about the kinds that cause problems in the UK already visit: www.nonnativespecies.org 

Record sightings of red squirrels you see via this link www.scottishsquirrels.org.uk

Get in touch with your local squirrel group e.g in Fife it’s www.fiferedsquirrelgroup.org.uk and see if there is any volunteering work you can do for red squirrels.

You could find out about how 6 different charities, government departments and groups in Scotland are working together on the Saving the Red Squirrel project- www.scottishsquirrels.org.uk

You could go and see them for yourself, take a look at this map and see where’s nearest to you www.scottishsquirrels.org.uk

Visit www.fiferedsquirrelgroup.org.uk and scroll down to the bottom to see  top tips for squirrel- watching! If you live in Fife, some great tips here where to see red squirrels.

My personal favourite for red squirrels, ospreys and the most fantastic forest & loch landscape is the RSPB’s Loch Garten Osprey Centre, Nethybridge nr Aviemore open between April – Sept but that’s me!

Frogs and Toads

If you have enjoyed Wild Planet Explorers Finto the Frog and Tess the Toad session or are just looking for a way to help your local amphibians & reptiles, here are a few ideas:

You and your family could become Dragon Finders. If you spot spawn, frogs, toads, lizards, snakes when you are out and about or find them in your garden, let Froglife know via their Dragonfinder app: www.froglife.org, or visit www.froglife.org for info.

You and your family could volunteer to clean out a pond or help build a pond – it’s a messy job but ask a local nature reserve if you can help, contact The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) to get started or visit www.froglife.org/volunteer, many RSPB family reserves have ponds too so check with your local reserve if they need help.

You could go to a local nature reserve and try pond-dipping. They have DIY pond dipping nets and kits for you to try & some great ponds! Look on the Wild Planet Explorers Nature Activity Search to find your local reserve and see if they have any specific pond dipping events near you.

You could build a home for hibernating frogs and toads, see how here https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/give-nature-a-home-in-your-garden/garden-activities/makeafrogandtoadabode/

You could build your own pond, find out how here! www.froglife.org

If you don’t want to build a huge pond, find out how to make one out of a washing up basin here https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/give-nature-a-home-in-your-garden/garden-activities/createaminipond/

You could donate to charities who support the conservation of amphibians and reptiles e.g Froglife, RSPB,  – Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust

Bumblebees, Wasps and Honeybees

If you enjoyed the Wild Planet Explorers Bumble, Walleena & Hum session or would like to do something to help bumblebees, wasps and honeybees, then here are a few ideas:

You could download the Bumblebee Conservation Trust Beekind App which helps you plant the right flowers for bees and check if your current garden flowers are good for bees.

You could download some bee ID guides to learn which bee is which!

You could also pretend to be a bee with your children & make your own bee hummer, here’s how to make it.

You could find out more about the issues with insecticides & bees, including neonicotinoids. A ban has just put been put in place but follow the Soil Association to keep updated on further developments. Here is more information about neonictonoids https://www.soilassociation.org/our-campaigns/ban-neonics/

Be informed about the latest pesticides under discussion, should they be used in your local area, on your food – find out more here https://www.soilassociation.org/our-campaigns/not-in-our-bread/the-pesticide-problem/

You could make your own homes for bees. You’ll need a hammer! To learn how to make one, visit ww2.rspb.org.uk

You could try to encourage others not to be frightened of bees and wasps and explain what good they do for us. Remember! No wonder wasps want to come to the picnic, they only live one summer and think how big you are compared to them. If you accidentally sit on them, squash them, eat them, what do the have to protect themselves against you? Nothing but their sting. Be kind to bees and wasps.

You could help weak queen bees & wasps who come into your house in autumn/winter by removing them to a crevice outside or by giving them sugary water on a plate to sip & then removing them.

You could volunteer or fundraise for a charity or group who helps bees and other bugs & beasties e.g Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Buglife, Soil Association, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, Friends of the Earth.