Wooden drifters wash up at coast

The wooden drifter at Budle Bay as EA staff carry out water sampling.
The wooden drifter at Budle Bay as EA staff carry out water sampling.

Unusual wooden pallets continue to be washed up along the North East coastline.

Staff at the Environment Agency and Natural England are the latest people to find the wooden ‘drifters’ with German writing.

The wooden blocks, which have washed up from north Northumberland to Teesside, are part of a German university’s efforts to understand marine macroplastics and their impact on our seas.

It is estimated that 13,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating within every square kilometre of our oceans.

The University of Oldenburg is researching and mapping the movement of marine debris using the drifters.

This month the Environment Agency’s analysis and reporting team found a drifter at Budle Bay while taking water samples, and staff and volunteers of Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve found two at Budle Bay.

Each wooden drifter has on it information about the project and how to report the find, with each block sporting a unique identification code.

Over the course of the project the university has released 100,000 of the blocks of various thickness into the North Sea off the German coast and its tributaries to understand the spread of plastic waste and the source of pollution.

The Environment Agency’s Hannah Westoby said: “This is a really interesting project which hopes to better understand the movement and spread of plastic waste.

“We look forward to seeing the results of the university’s research.”

Keep your eyes peeled for any drifters you find to support the data collection. More information can be found at www.macroplastics.de