London to Pembrokeshire to Plastic Beach


A friend of mine recently came up from London to stay with me in Pembrokeshire (where I am currently living), so I decided to take him down to Fresh Water West, my usual surfing haunt to take some photos, as we both dabble in photography. Fresh Water West is the most consistent surf spot in Wales and is also (usually) clean and tidy – I’m guessing that’s how it got it’s name – but the day or two prior to our visit saw some of the highest tides of the year, which, combined with some rough weather, caused an absolutely shocking amount of plastic waste to wash up on the beach. I have been visiting this beach regularly to surf for over two years and I was genuinely blown away by the shear amount of plastic waste that was sitting all along the beach.


We all know that there is a ridiculous amount of plastic currently floating in our oceans, and it is being added to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I created the Floating Plastic Waste print back in 2010, on the subject of massive amounts of degrading plastic waste floating in the ocean gyres, but it really does hit home when you see it washed up in your back garden.

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In amongst the mass of plastic waste there was also seal corpse, which is not a particularly uncommon sight as there is a healthy seal population in the area, and they do get washed up or caught out in storms from time to time, this is just part of nature. But what we found was what looked like a fully grown, healthy adult seal, and I’m no expert, but as it was lying surrounded by plastic and pieces of old fishing nets I am assuming that the cause of death may not have been completely natural.

I also recently stumbled upon an article from the Guardian, of all places, with most other news outlets also publishing similar reports that in 2012 Britain’s beaches were the most polluted they have been for over a decade. This pretty much sums up what we had seen, and is it really surprising with the amount of waste that is being dumped into our oceans. I don’t normally buy into all these sensationalised headlines that the various mass-media seems to spew out on a daily basis, but in this case I am inclined to believe them.


Scattered throughout the mass of plastic waste was a large number of bottle caps, which someone had ingeniously decided to press into a rock at the end of the beach – I suppose it was better than being in the sea. Unfortunately they didn’t last long and were gone the next time I was at the beach, presumably they are back out in the ocean, endlessly floating around until they get eaten, washed up or simply breakdown after a few hundred years and become ingested into the food chain.

You can check out some more pics in the 8Y8 Flickr sets.

There is something we can all do, and one great charity striving to make a change in the UK is Surfers Against Sewage – which is well deserving of all the support they get.