With news reports of Brighton braced for storms – the wilder of side of Sussex embraced the waves. Big weather events aren’t all disaster and destruction. Winds whipping up water on Southwick’s Saturday shores saw pre-storm riders running before the wind. Windsurfers race the tides along the coast, while surfers hang out for sheltered swell inside the harbour wall. Thirsty for their thrills the neoprene tribe trot past the coffee crowd around Southwick’s hidden secret.
Waves might be clean today but the beach below is dirty – and litter pickers scatter, plucking pieces of tossed up plastic in an effort to protect the sea life from more harm.
Today, in post stormageddon Brighton the beach patrol buzz by – warning people out of wild waves’ way. A boat is battered up the Black Rock beach. How has a hapless seaman missed the gaping marina mouth? i Not quite Athina B but big enough – to pull a small crowd of half term kids and dads.
As the wildest winds blow over, a swelling shoal of surfers forms, tucked in beneath the marina’s eastern arm – to ride the rising tide. Meanwhile seagulls are seeking shelter, silenced by the screech and rattle of masts – as the wind wails east leaving heaving swell behind.
Another day, more drifting deadly debris on the tide.
Still more beached balloons are bobbing in the breeze – celebratory bubbles yet to burst and present a not so happy meal to choke any gourmet fish or gull – tempted by exotic imported morsels.
The menacing menu can be washed down today with reclaimed refreshments – a bottle of beer or a guilty looking juice.
Its no wonder stranded creatures look unwell.
As well as picnics on the beach, there’s scope for seaside sport. An abandoned football chucked up by the waves is next to a knobbled knee pad. A tennis ball has shed its skin – a fluorescent sea slug on the shore.
Its not all playtime at this seaside though – close scrutiny reveals a micro office mingled with the shingle – a rubber, pens and the lid of of a usb.
Among the trash we do find treasure too – a store of tiny tools to take-away.
Smart glass fronted holiday homes on the shingle ridge of Camber face the far horizon, but a near shore scan reveals a gallery of gruesome goods abandoned by the tides.
Beach combing for treasure here throws up a trove of toxic trash that mingles with marine life. Do cockles clean their shells with cotton buds or celebrate big birthdays with balloons?
Every few feet deflated remnants of celebrations are shredded to sea anemone shapes, their gaudy plastic tails tangled in washed up weed – lasting far longer in the food chain than the days and years they celebrate. This lethal legacy of holiday haven parties has potential to tangle and strangle local birds and fish.
Are shredded pants, abandoned butts, beer cans and bottles battered by the waves remnants of wild nights out?
Alongside the cockle and razor shells cast aside by snacking gulls and oyster catchers, detritus from human diners drifts ashore. Near the closed for winter cafe there’s no escaping brand wars on this beach. Empty Coke and Pepsi cans compete for attention, alongside long forgotten fermenting juice and freshly left coffee cups – tasty.
While shed shells play their part in shaping shifting sands, there is no safe place for shreds of nets and tangles of line lost or dumped in the hunt to find our fish food. Washed up wings could be the sign of seagulls snarled in line?
The lead of a hapless hound lies at the top of the tide – has a dog despaired of modern living and done a Reggie Perrin? Or drowned doing doggy paddle? Should I dial 999? There are signs on shore for us – smoking kills and wind and tide can trap. But no alarms for sea life warning of the snares we set. Most victims die invisible, although the occassional corpse washes up onshore. Like this strange seahorse found drowned – seemingly strangled by its manufactured plastic mane.