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Thursday, 5 August 2010

Wed 4th Aug 2010 - Watershoot Bay, St Catherine's Point.

This week we were on the Island’s Heritage Coast in Watershoot Bay, which is on the southernmost point of the Island between Rocken End and St Catherine’s Point. Our job was to clear the beach of any rubbish and detritus which had either been left there by users of the beach, or washed ashore on the incoming tide. We worked together in pairs, one collecting the rubbish and one making notes on what we found. The information we collect goes to the Marine Conservation Society to support their Beachwatch campaign, which is now in its 18th year of helping to raise awareness of marine pollution, and provides vital information on the need to tackle marine pollution at source. There are two pieces of litter for every footstep you take on a beach, also marine wildlife gets entangled in litter and accidentally ingests it. Turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, and the bags can block their stomachs often leading to death from starvation. Seabirds mistake floating plastic litter for food, and over 90% of fulmars found dead around the North Sea had plastic in their stomachs. Plastic litter on beaches has increased 121% since 1994 and never biodegrades, it just breaks down into small pieces, but does not disappear. Interestingly enough, the vast majority of the items we found on the beach were ALL plastic.

Carrie’s Geology Lesson

Something new for the Blog this week, following a wonderful find by Angela of a large fossil (see picture). I sent the image to Trevor Price at Dinosaur Isle, and he kindly provided some fascinating information as follows:-

It is certainly a large ammonite, and the rock is part of the Upper Greensand which places its age at about 100 million years - the transition time from the Lower to Upper Cretaceous. This time marks a period when the northern end of the Atlantic Ocean was beginning to open, the sea-floor was being pushed up by upwelling magma and the water pushed out over the nearby low continental plains of Europe and Northern America. The Upper Greensand is the first record of the sandy shorelines that formed prior to the deep water chalks, where depths of 350 metres of water were reached over southern England. Once the Atlantic had widened the sea-floor subsided, and water on the continents ran back to leave dry land near the beginning of the Palaeogene some 60 million years ago. Ammonites were large marine animals related to today’s nautilus, octopus, squid and cuttlefish. They went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, but their close relatives the nautiloids survived. The ammonite has a similar shape to a large Mantelliceras or Acanthoceras, but the fossil is so worn it is difficult to make a precise identification. The body fossil for the ammonite has either fallen out some years ago and been destroyed by the sea, or some lucky collector has been able to carry it off, leaving behind the imprint of the outer surface of the shell - it is a very nice find!

Many thanks to Carrie for the text and pictures - and also to Angela for being so observant..!

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