‘This is the beach
where the flip flops come
at the end of their
flip flop trip.
And where does a
flip flop trip begin?’
(from Flip Flotsam, by Elspeth Murray)
Flip-flops, Lego, plastic ducks: unlikely subjects for scientific research but surprisingly, excellent ingredients for the perfect beach holiday! All of these have played a part in increasing our understanding of the workings of ocean currents; a few interesting facts:
- 29,000 plastic ducks have been tracked since being washed from a container on a storm-bound ship in 1992: some are still turning up 17,000 miles from their original ducking.
- Lego, tipped from a vessel off Land’s End in 1997, is showing up on beaches across Cornwall and Devon – pleasingly much of this was marine themed Lego including octopi and seaweed, but also dragons and flowers.
- There was even once an attempt to assess whether there’s a statistically significant left/right bias in distribution of flip flop flotsam on eastern and western sides of the North Sea (sadly inconclusive).
We’re always excited by quirky natural science at Wild Days, and we love beautiful places, so we’ve teamed up with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) to conduct beach surveys in some of the most stunning, remote and wild places in Devon and Cornwall. It’s all the excuse we need for a beach holiday with a difference!
Our surveys take place on a range of priority beaches identified by the MCS through their Beachwatch programme, including some known for their Lego landings. Beach combing in 100m sections we find, identify, classify and record the types of flotsam and jetsam, often very small, that swirl constantly around us in the oceans. Data is fed into a national database which helps to identify trends and sources of marine pollution and can guide the development of policy and legislation.
Two holidays this year, one in Devon and one in Cornwall, take us to a range of beaches in some of the most wild and interesting parts of each county. Combined with Wild Days signature obsession with good local food and any excuse to explore all other forms of local wildlife and countryside, we think we’ve found the perfect beach holiday for active and inquisitive people!