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Caithness News Bulletins September 2004

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Caithness Critters Caithness Countryside Volunteers

Almost 30 volunteers turned out last Saturday to take part in a local beach clean and monitor at Keiss beach. The clean-up was organised by the rangers in The Highland Council's Planning and Development Service as part of the national Beachwatch event, the most extensive monitoring programme in Europe for coastal and marine litter.

The volunteers cleared large amounts of unwanted debris and litter along the rocky section of the shore between the harbour and Stain. Members of the Caithness Critters and the Caithness Countryside Volunteers turned out in force and with help from local residents, created a strong hit squad. The types and quantities of litter were recorded and removed to ensure that the surveyed stretch of beach was rubbish free.

Beach litter is more than just an eyesore as particular items such as  nets and rope can post a threat to wildlife.  177 different species of marine animals are known to mistake litter for food, which can block their digestive system. In February this year, a rare Cuvier's beaked whale washed up dead on Mull.  Inside the whale's stomach a large number of plastic bin bags were found blocking part of the gut.

Marina Finlayson, East Caithness Ranger and beach clean organiser said: "It was fantastic to see the amount of support for this clean-up as without the efforts of volunteers, it would not happen. Much of the
debris has been on this section of beach for quite some time and there was a great deal to collect. The volunteers did a wonderful job and have made the beach a cleaner, safer place to visit for the general public and wildlife alike.  Many thanks to everyone who turned up and to the Moray Firth Partnership for funding the volunteer refreshments."