A Black and White Look at Plastics on the Beach

Personal plastic items for adults and children are everyday beach finds. Lighters and toothbrushes are more common than you might think. Forgotten toys are run-of-the-mill.

Plastic lighter on beach sand. The sand is dimpled with raindrops.
Toothbrush up near the back shore on a partially buried drift log, accompanied by a sprig of beachgrass
Plastic turtle partially buried in beach sand.
Plastic soldier figure, on beach sand in the prone position, crawling with a rifle

Fishing gear lost at sea washes ashore too. Plastic buoys, trawl floats, hagfish trap funnels, and trap door clips all end up on the beach.

Old plastic buoy with sone frayed rope attached, on dry beach sand.
Small plastic two-lug trawl float
Hagfish trap funnel on beach sand, the view is to the surf zone over beach sand.
Plastic trap door clip

Shotgun shell wads and fragments of broken crates are wrack line staples.

At sea or on the beach, plastic items eventually degrade into fragments that make for a dirty drift. However, there are a few nurdles in the left panel below—they aren’t fragments. Instead, they’re small round pellets used worldwide to produce plastic products. Some of them, inevitably, make their way to the beach after spills.

CBWC: Any Plastic Item


    1. The turtle is cute for sure. Some of the drifted items are a curiosity. They arrive from all around the world, so they interest me quite a bit. But I don’t care for nurdles and small plastic fragments in the drift. Thanks, Cee, for a great challenge.

    1. The worst for me are the nurdles and small plastic fragments. Drifted floats and bottles from around the world hold my interest, especially when I can unravel their stories. But in the end, it’s all trash. There is so much of it, Lisa, I agree; it’s hard not to dispair. Thanks for taking a look at my take on plastic beach trash.

      1. My brother is a retired marine biologist in Alaska. He has shown me all the trash he’s picked up off the beaches. In fact, he’s been doing some documenting. He’s also gotten creative with some of it 😊

  1. It’s depressing, isn’t it? I recently spent an hour or so cleaning an apparently ‘clean beach’, and amassed a huge amount of plastic mini-chips, straws, detritus of every kind and colour. The fact that it wasn’t at first visible almost made it worse.

    1. I participated in a short beach clean up once and had pretty much the same experience as you describe. We were limited to 15 minutes and though the beach looked clean, it was amazing how much human-generated debris we found.

  2. Hi Steve, HGT – human generated trash is a plague on our ocean and beaches. With two beagles now, I am unable to gather up the refuse I see as I walk the wrack line, and it pains me. When the dogs and I have figured out a routine, I’ll get back to filling large bags with HGT. Thanks for keeping connected with my blog!!!

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