Litter@sea: A tragedy in the making (Blog Action Day!)

Several weeks ago we were on a family holiday in Southwold, Suffolk, UK, one of the most magical places in the world. If you have never been there, you must go.

Southwold is a quaint, picturesque, seaside town on the East Coast of the England right at the border of Norfolk and Suffolk. The high street has all of the types of shops that you’d expect in a place like this: butchers, bakers, green grocers, art galleries and book stores. No big box stores need apply. There are some great restaurants and pubs including the Lord Nelson which was voted one of the top 10 in England recently by The Good Pub Guide.

Southwold rainbow

One of the beautiful things about Southwold is the magnificent beach that runs the length of the town from the famous Southwold Pier to the entrance to the harbour. To our family, the water always seems a little too cold and too rough for swimming; however, it is a wonderful place to spend the day reading a book in the sun while your children dig in the sand and build castles.

Here’s a picture of the Southwold Beach with my wife Jenny and daughter Joy right in the middle waving to my son Luke and me to come down and join them for fun in the sun and sand. Not too much competition for finding a spot to lay down a blanket on that brisk late summer day!

Mummy and Joy alone on the Southwold beach

That evening a ferocious storm roared into town turning the surf from blue to mocha in the process and I took these photos the following morning.

Mocha Sea Southwold 3

Mocha Sea Southwold 5

Mocha Sea with windsurfer Southwold

The wicked sea also will remind us that we have not taken care of her.  According to the  UN Atlas of the Oceans:

It has been estimated that there are over 17,000 pieces of plastic litter floating on every square kilometre of the world’s oceans. Solid waste, or litter, is dominated by plastics, but also includes glass, metals, and complex objects combining multiple substances, ranging from domestic and industrial appliances to ships. Of the total of some 8 million tonnes of solid waste entering the sea every day, about 5 million tonnes are thrown, or lost, from ships. The remainder comes from urban centres, and from remote centres of high affluence such as tourist centres. East Africa and the South Pacific have put solid wastes as second among their priority problems, second only to domestic sewage.

Well, sometimes the wicked sea will give us back some of our mess and it isn’t pretty. Here are some pictures of Southwold Beach after the storm. Needless to say,  there wasn’t much fun in the sun that day.

Sea litter - After the storm - Southwold

Sea litter - After the storm - Southwold 2

Sea litter - After the storm - Southwold 3

Sea litter - After the storm - Southwold 4

Ben Macintyre wrote a very powerful essay titled “Britannia’s cruel treatment of the waves” which speaks to the challenge of protecting the marine environment. Of course, this is not Great Britain’s problem alone. After all, we must not forget that the ocean connects us and we all share the burden and responsibility to keep it clean and healthy for our’s and generations to come.  Sea Change

Richard Girling, North Norfolk UK writer, has recently published a book entitled Sea Change: Britain’s Coastal Catastrophe. Here is a link to an interesting essay that he wrote for the June 10, 2007 issue of The Sunday Times,  If you go down to the sea today…

Nowhere in the UK is more than 72 miles from the sea. Every aspect of our lives – our diet, climate, politics, art, suspicion of foreigners – even the blood in our veins – is conditioned by it. As a people, we are not so much by the sea as of it. Transmuted through the deep-fat fryer, it taints the air in every city and town. It is our favourite day out, our pride and national identifier. We can’t know when our oldest ancestor first launched himself on a log. By some time between 1890BC and 1700BC, however, Bronze Age Britons were advanced in the art of building proper, internally braced planked boats with caulked seams and keels. We lagged behind the Egyptians, who had the technology at least 700 years earlier, but few nations on Earth have left a more powerful wake. When Julius Caesar arrived, he found an energetic maritime nation ploughing a well-furrowed sea and with a well-established tradition of shipbuilding.

The sea has been and probably always be man’s greatest natural resource. We really need to work harder at protecting it for ourselves and future generations. A day at the beach should be fun and safe every day; even after a ferocious storm.

Published by

Peter A. Mello

Father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

7 thoughts on “Litter@sea: A tragedy in the making (Blog Action Day!)”

  1. I was hanging out on Goat Island watching them come it. They were beautiful, so majestic.

    Thanks so much for your support. It’s very much needed. I’ll be back to read your blog!

  2. Jonathan,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. I was a young trainee aboard one of the tall ships in Newport in 1976. Kind of charted the course of the rest of my life.

    I checked out your site, sent a message and forwarded it on to a fewer others. Sounds like a step in the right direction. Thanks for making me aware of it.

  3. Peter

    Great post…and blog!!

    I came here by way of Brian Clark’s great easy on CopyBlogger. But first, I’d like to say that i read your personal story with interest. I’m a native Rhode Islander, just a couple of years younger than you. My parents loved the sea and I remember the Tall Ships coming into Newport Harbor for the Bicentennial 31 years ago. I remember him also telling me that when he was a child in the ’30’s there were dolphins in Narragansett Bay.

    But I digress a little there.

    I’m working with a coalition to make sure Congress sends the president a strong energy bill with meaningful changes for our environment and planet. This legislation would be a monumental step toward stopping global warming. Please go to and sign the petition.

    The bill they are about to pass includes the best fuel economy standards ever (35 mpg by 2020) and a renewable electricity standard (15% by 2020) that guarantees the growth of renewable, clean energy. But there is a chance these two key advances won’t make it through to the final bill. This is our chance for real progress, so don’t let Congress back down! Thanks!J

  4. Thanks Janice. It’s amazing that your city has survived the challenges as well as it has. Testimony to the adaptability of the human spirit. My post pales in comparison. Visited your blog and enjoyed the tasty artwork! Thanks again!

  5. Beautiful post. Flotsam and jetsam really call us to order. What are we about? After the storm, my entire city became toxic to me. It is hard to make it clear to people, the scale of it all. Thanks for visually making a point so needed. All best, Jan

  6. Great photos…and a well made point. We have to take care of the planet, lessen our impact on it, and build a future where we include its healthy in all our decisions!

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