‘Marine litter belongs to all of us’: Cleanup at Grattan Beach

Volunteers were able to fill six bags with litter in a one-hour time period at Grattan Beach this past weekend.

The Galway Atlantaquaria hosted a beach cleanup in partnership with Clean Coasts to help spread awareness about marine litter.

The special cleanup was hosted at Grattan Beach along Salthill Promenade on 22 January, although Clean Coasts and the Atlantaquaria have been cleaning this beach for years.

Around ten volunteers showed up to help fill bags with rubbish. Random beach goers also went about picking up trash and other debris to put in the volunteer’s bags. 

Garry Kendellen, the event organizer, has been one of the main instigators behind Galway’s beach cleans in the last number of years.

“Galway Atlantaquaria has been cleaning the beaches for years before joining up with Clean Coasts,” he said.

Clean Coasts is an environmental organization that is sponsored by the Irish government to help clean the beaches of Ireland and keep the coasts free of any marine litter or debris.

A variety of items were found during the beach clean. Bright green, red, and blue fishing rope was caught between the seaweed. There were also buoys used for fishing and boating found along the shore. 

There was also a variety of other litter like broken aluminium cans, bottles, and other plastic debris. 

The cleanup attracted volunteers of all ages. Isaac Nolan, a marine biology student at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, was one of the youngest to attend. 

“I like doing beach cleans to help out with the environment, and I think it’s a good experience to meet new people.”

“I want to help improve the ecosystem and do my bit and hopefully over time it will help the whole ecosystem recover,” he said.

While the main motivation behind such cleanups is to keep the litter out of the water and off of the beaches, volunteer Ultan McManus also goes to the beach cleans to just get out of the house.

“From an environmental point of view, it’s good to help keep plastic out of the water. From a mental health point of view, it’s good to just get outside and be in the fresh air. Everyone leaves with a smile on their face,” he said.

The beach cleanups are also meant to be educational, with an additional workshop taught at the end of each clean consisting of stories about marine life to help raise awareness about environmental issues. The story at the last clean was about the codfish, told by Mr Kendellen.

“We noticed that fewer people started to come to the cleans so we decided to add a workshop at the end to encourage people to come.”

“The diversity of workshop offerings will hopefully increase people’s participation, the cod story was there to tell a story to other people and maybe have them share the story and continue the conversation.”

“We can’t blame marine litter on one thing. Marine litter belongs to all of us,” Mr Kendellen said.

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