‘Very upsetting’: Thousands of tiny polystyrene balls wash up on Brighton beach

Thousands of tiny polystyrene balls have washed up on the beach in Brighton, prompting concern about the impact on marine life.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 1:19 pm
The polystyrene balls on the beach

Brighton and Hove Council said it was ‘very concerned’ by the ‘upsetting’ situation and committed to tidying the beach as soon as possible.

Leave No Trace Brighton, a community initiative, first posted about reports of the plastic waste on Saturday.

The group said in a Facebook post: “We’ve just received a report that 1000’s of tiny polystyrene balls have washed up onto Brighton’s seafront - they’ve been spotted from Palace Pier all the way to Maroccos (and probably beyond).

The polystyrene balls on the beach

“A huge polystyrene pontoon washed up in Thanet on the east coast last month, shedding thousands of tiny pieces of polystyrene, and we think this may be fall out from the incident.

“These small polystyrene balls are easily mistaken as food by seabirds and marine animals, so if you’re headed to the beach today please do clear a handful or two if you can.”

The Sussex Dolphin Project warned that they could present ‘a real danger’ to marine life.

Thea Taylor, Sussex Dolphin Project lead, said: “The presence of the polystyrene balls found along Brighton and Hove Beaches this week can be a real danger to marine life when entering the food chain.

“As the balls float they may be picked up by surface feeding fish and birds like shearwaters who could feed it to their chicks at this time of year.

“The plastic is then passed along the food chain, ultimately reaching us humans as we consume the fish that have ingested the plastics.”

The council said it did not know where the plastic balls had come from.

A spokesman said: “We have been very concerned to see lots of tiny polystyrene balls washing up on beaches in the city.

“The situation is very upsetting, as we do not know where they have come from.

“We are committed to tidying up the beach as soon as possible.

“The impact of single use plastics on the marine environment is now well-known to cause damage.

“We have already been in touch with the environmental campaign group Leave No Trace, and are speaking to a specialist pollution contractor for assistance.

“We are also considering whether we can approach established beach clean volunteers and other residents to see if they can help.”