Photogenic Mess: A Digital Exploration of Grenada Marine Debris

Latest update January 11, 2019 Started on November 2, 2018

Since March 2018 a small group of dedicated volunteers have been cleaning the beaches and nearshore reefs around the Caribbean island of Grenada. As of 2nd November 2018 we have removed over 17,000 pieces of marine debris (almost 700 kg!). We are documenting the type of marine debris found in a hope to make changes through legislation when we know what the greatest issues are. Children of Grenada will be included in the clean ups to hopefully help protect the environment in the future.

November 2, 2018
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In The Field


Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. We got our trident towards the end of December and got her in the water on New Year's Eve. What we learned was that I was not made to play video games enough as a child! I was really bad. Thankfully my best friend and right hand woman, Sara, did play enough, so I think I will be the passenger for a while!

We decided to name our trident Skye. Skye is a Scottish name (and an island in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland), and despite living in the Caribbean for the past four and half years, I am proud to be Scottish and I value my roots. Skye means adventurous, protection and scholar, all of which describes what we are doing with her.The other name we were thinking of using was Murdoch (meaning sea battler), but all I could think of was Rupert Murdoch, so we vetoed that name!

We didn't quite reach our 25,000 pieces of marine debris by the end of the year (work commitments took over over Christmas), but we hit it in the second week of January! :-)

Stay tuned as we see what Skye can do. Happy fishes.


We have two pieces of FANTASTIC news to share!

Firstly we have surpassed 20,000 pieces of marine debris collected on the shores and reefs in Grenada (since March 2018). We have set the somewhat ambitious goal of collecting 25,000 pieces by the end of the year. While weight of garbage is important and we always weigh what we collect, so much of the marine debris here is Styrofoam and small plastic fragments therefore it makes more sense to set a number of pieces goal than a weight goal (although we are nearing 1000 kg).

Secondly...we got an OpenROV Trident drone :-) It will be arriving in Grenada the week after Christmas. Thank you to National Geographic and OpenROV for this wonderful opportunity to further explorer the waters around Grenada. And thanks to everyone following the project. We wouldn't have been eligible without you :p When he arrives we shall be taking name suggestions.

I can't wait to start using our new friend to tackle the issue of marine debris in Grenada.

Happy fishes everyone :-)

Another great clean up dive done today (we might have been distracted by the pipefish I found, and the triggerfish that was chasing us!).

As we near towards 20,000 pieces of garbage collected I thought I would take you through some of the stranger items we have found over the last 9 months. I can't name the pictures so here is a list that is hopefully in the same order as the pictures when they upload...

  1. Pieces of a car (I think!)
  2. A GIANT green tarpaulin (unfortunately this was left as I had no way to get it up, and there was only one other person with me. I know roughly where it is and will try to get back to get it up with some lift bags)
  3. A little feather duster worm who decided a plastic bottle looked like a nice home. This photo is from today - the worm was removed from the bottle and popped on the reef (a much nicer home!)
  4. An anemone living in a plastic cup! We see this all the time - fish, crustaceans, worms, even coral settling on or in plastic debris because it provides protection to them.

So...apparently I can only upload 4 photos at a time. I guess I'll have to do another post with the rest of the weird things we find!

Happy fishes

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What a day! Two wonderful groups of students came together to clean up Hog Island (a small island in the Southwest of Grenada) this morning, and the area between the St. George's University campus and the nearest beach this afternoon.

At Hog Island 23 students collected 56 kg of garbage, including 154 plastic beverage bottles, 92 plastic bags or pieces of plastic bag, 28 plastic bottle caps, 55 Styrofoam items, and 39 glass beverage bottles.

This afternoon we had 13 students (and 4 dogs!) helping clean the road from campus to the beach, and the beach itself. A lot of construction is currently underway on the road, and we were not disappointed with the amount and diversity of garbage collected. We had the usual plastic bottles, glass bottles, straws, foam food containers, etc. We estimate the weight to be around 80 kg. Due to the small number of people (exams are a coming!) we didn't record every item found because we felt it was better to clean the entire area.

Interesting finds of today - a key, caution tape (lots and lots of caution tape), Lego block, metal alcohol tin (the kind that fancy whisky comes in), cake pan, paintbrush, and a toolkit! Sometimes I do wonder how these items end up where they do!

My Fitbit says I have done 18,795 steps! A day well spent. Till next time...

Happy fishes!

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Its going to be a very busy weekend for cleanups. I will be heading to Hog Island to participate in a clean up organised by the St. George's University (SGU) environmental group ECO (Education Conservation Outreach) on Saturday morning, and then head back to the university for a clean up organised by the SGU Sustainability Committee (that I am a part of) in the afternoon.
If anyone is around and wants to participate come on down and help us protect our environment :-)

Expedition Background

As a SCUBA diving instructor I was disappointed that I was frequently collecting garbage on dives both in Grenada and other Caribbean countries. I, along with some friends, decided that we would start an active clean up of beaches and nearshore reefs around Grenada. In the past seven months we have collected 17,605 pieces of marine debris, all of which have been grouped into over 350 categories, so that we can begin to identify which items are of greatest concern on the island.


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