Plastics, Crabs and Cuttlefish Crime Scenes

High tides and a few spits of rain were no barriers to getting out on the beach with the kids from PEAC Midwest Region! This was the third time in recent years that NACC NRM’s Coastal Team have taken these talented kids on a guided walk for some hands-on insights into coastal ecology, beachcombing, marine debris and coastal processes.

As always, the kids were keen as mustard to get their feet wet (most metaphorically, some literally) and dedicated themselves to the task of collecting interesting flotsam and jetsam along the high tide line. Periodically the group would gather around a pile of interesting goodies and discuss what had been found.

Coastcare Support Office, Alanah Campbell, talked eloquently about the scourge of marine debris as we sifted through the usual bits of rope, net and plastic, so common on our beaches and those around the world.  Unusual finds included a lovely purple onion (complimenting nicely a carrot found a few days earlier) and a plastic crab – an example of a soft plastic fishing lure that have become so popular recently and are increasing the plastic pollution load in our seas.

Another Coastcare Support Officer, Mic Payne, gathered up some natural components of the beach wrack and worked with the kids to put them into categories – algae, seagrass and animals. As usual they quickly got the hang of the complicated business of naming algae (red, green and brown based on their actual colour) as well as playing “who ate the cuttlefish” based on the teeth marks on the cuttlebones we found (mostly dolphins we thought).

The sea level was way too high to undertake a previously popular activity of netting sea wrack and checking out all the delicious invertebrates living therein. Never mind, the seagulls and oyster catchers were having a feast on critters washing out of the beach wrack all around us. Coastal erosion was also evident and discussed. When asked why the sea level was so high the kids were all over it – high tide, recent storm and, of course, climate change. Addressing climate change won’t be a problem when these kids are in charge.

If you are interested in guided beach walk for your NAR school, please get in touch with us via or our webpage.

Dr Michael Payne – Coastcare Support Officer

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