Cycling between Tongue and Altnahara, enjoying the Scottish highlands. So peaceful and undisturbed. But what do I notice in the ditches near the road, bottles and cans. How is this possible, what is on the mind of people trowing these out of their cars. It is a huge problem everywhere. I saw it at the Shetlands, at the Orkneys. I see it at home, and I do not understand. This problem is the most simple issue in the whole litter problem which could be solved so easily.

The Orkneys

Being at the Orkneys was great,. In fact fairly close to the Schotland mainland. I stayed mainly on the main isle. Starting in Kirkwall heading for Stromness. Looking at the cultural highlights like Skara Brae and ring of Brodgar. The most striking part was the isle of Hoy, watching the amazing cliffs, the old man of Hoy. There so many seabirds were having their nests. Even the puffins gave me a glance. I continued my travel back to Kirkwall via St. Margaret’s hope toward Burwick, where I crossed the Pentland Firth to the mainland of Schotland. John o’Groats.

In between I also visited some beaches looking for nurdles. Out of 10 at 4 of them I found only one or two. But be aware, in debris at sandy shore it is easy to distinguish them, but in the often found rocky beaches here, they easily may disappear between the peddles.

Note that you sometimes find very strange items on the beach!!! Most beaches show besides kelp some netting, but in fact very little plastics.
The exact info about all findings of nurdles will be reported after my cycling tour.

Oh no also nurdles found on Shetlands

I spent 5 days at the Shetlands to cycle, some birdwatching and looking for nurdles. I reached the most Northern house of the UK, which is also my most Nothern destination. I was so glad that I did not found them in either of the locations facing the North Sea and also not in the Holm of Skaw, where the North Sea is embraced by the Atlantic Ocean. However, one day later I reached Mavis Grind, where the geological ridge separate both Seas at limited distance. At the Atlantic beach, there were loads of high tide debris, filled with plastic litter and also lots of nurdles. Thus also the Shetland beaches are not clean and their sheep are feeding on it. Removing nurdles from the system is not really possible.

But I noticed another problem namely besides the highway there were cans and plastic bottles all over. That is an issue which could be solved easily I would think.

The UK coast between Edinburgh and Aberdeen

Between the 15th and 21st of June, I cycled along the East coast of the UK heading for Aberdeen. I visited ad random 13 beaches looking for nurdles. Normally I look for a spot where they might be and I do a search for 10-15 minutes in the upper tide line. Luckily most of the visited beaches did not contain them, even in high tide lines showing small plastics and foam beads. However near Dundee (15 nurdles) and the nearby smal place Broughty Ferry ( the stairway for the beach, was full of debris) there were again over 15 found. Often they were found together with the earsticks, meaning this is a freshwater river source. But this could be a coincidence. At Lunan beach there were spots of small foam beads and 2 nurdles found. My next heading are the Shetlands.

Nurdles are found

My first week of cycling brought me from NewCastle to North Berwick. Randomly I visite beach sites and look for nurdles. In 5 out of 7 I found nurdles in the high tide debris line. This is more than I expected. 2 times the amount was over 30 beads in area’s of about 1.5 by 2 m. Just in the surface debris. I wil registrate those to Fidra after my trip.
Just some examples below.

The Great Nurdle Hunt

Mijn fietstocht van 2023 staat in het teken van de nurdels of wel de plastic korrels die als grondstof in de plastic industrie gebruikt worden.

The great nurdle hunt is gestart in 2013 door de vrijwilligersorganisatie Fidra (https://www/Fidra.org.uk) die zich bezighoudt met allerlei projecten om plastic afval en chemische verontreinigingen in het milieu te reduceren. Dit burgerinitiatief waarbij de vindplaatsen en aantallen van deze plastic korrels in het milieu vastgelegd worden levert informatie om uiteindelijk de industrie en overheid aan te spreken op hun verantwoordelijkheid en gezamenlijk tot actie te komen om deze plastic vervuiling van ons milieu tegen te gaan.

Ik wil hieraan een bijdrage leveren door tijdens mijn fietstocht langs de kusten van Schotland, Engeland, België en Nederland diverse locaties langs de kust te bezoeken en aantallen plastic korrels vast te stellen.

Nurdle vindplaatsen in 2022 (gepubliceerd door nurdlehunt.org.uk)

Mosdiertjes plastic community in IJmuiden

Al 2 weken grote hoeveelheden harig mosdiertje, Electra pilosa op het strand van IJmuiden, daartussen wemelt het van lichtgewicht plastic. Veel stukjes van plastic koffiebekers, roerders, papiertjes en andere plastic stukjes.

Schone Rivieren Project

7 november 2020 officieel gestart als afvalonderzoeker bij project SchoneRivieren. Mijn locatie ligt aan de Nieuwe Waterweg bij Hoek van Holland. Samen met vele andere vrijwilligers bezoeken we 2 maal per jaar elk onze eigen locatie en brengen het afval in kaart om een beeld te krijgen van hoeveelheden en typen afval. Vindt het zijn oorsprong in de rivier aanvoer of komt het uit zee. Uiteraard ruimen we dit afval ook op. Inzicht in het type afval en waar het vandaan komt helpt om afval te verminderen door producenten erop aan te spreken, maar het helpt ook om bij burgers bewustzijn te kweken voor dit probleem.

CASP opname: Vlieland

Tijdens wandelweekend met vereniging Rugzaklopers is op 12 september 2020 een opname op Vlieland uitgevoerd. Er zijn flink wat items gevonden op het 100 m traject. Een deel ervan is voor verder onderzoek meegenomen. Zie de foto’s.

Eerste grove inventarisatie van de gevonden items. Alles is gerubriceerd en genoteerd, maar niet alles gaat mee naar huis.

Met dank aan: Guus, Bart, Henny, Gea en Marike

PRE-CASP tour:

Northern Germany: 6th till 26th of August 2020

Despite COVID 19, this summer I had the opportunity to cycle in Northern Germany and used that experience as a kind of Pre-CASP exercise. My tour went from Hamburg up to the Baltic Sea (Travemunde) and from there towards Flensburg, along the border of Denmark towards the Wadden Coast of Germany. From Dagebűll I followed the NorthSea-Coast Cycle Route to Bad Nieuweschans, which fitted in the CASP2020 program.

The exercise was focused on: mouth masks and CASP-inventory at beaches and  estuaries.

All the blue dots refer to the coordinates where a mouth mask was recorded along the North Sea Coast Cycling route. The red dots refer to CASP inventory spots.

The mouth masks along the way

Since half of June 2020, in Germany non-medical mouth masks are mandatory inside buildings, public transport and other places where no 1.5 m distance is possible. While cycling I frequently noticed mouth mask lying near the cycling path.  To get an impression about the numbers and distribution along the North Sea Coast Cycle Route,  I took pictures of most of them and toke their coordinates.

My rough personal estimate is that  some 60-70 % of the masks worn in public is disposable.  My findings show that only 3 out of 81 lost ones are non-disposable, which refer to < 4 %. So although still some 30 % of the people wear non-disposables, the ones on the street are in majority the disposable one’s.

So my first conclusions are:

Masks are not purposely thrown away (many look unused in the pictures) but probably lost. I saw a majority of people tie them up loosely at their arm or the handle of their bike.

Everywhere near the path I could find them, but highest concentrations are along popular roads (near camping’s, walking or cycling paths and bathing areas). The high concentration on the bigger roads near Cuxhaven and Bremerhaven are probably due to high industrial activity. These areas were characterized by a lot of other debris as well. In the inner cities hardly mouth masked where found, probably due to regular local council cleaning

Since the percentage of found non-disposable mouth mask is so small, it is advised to support the use of these ones in campaigns by the authorities. Probably people are most likely to collect them when they accidently fly away or fall down.