Multi-coloured rock pool at Rhossili

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Thousands of small multi-coloured pieces of flotsam plastic floating in a rock pool at Spaniard Rocks, Rhossili Bay, Gower, South Wales, UK (1) 

Thousands of small multi-coloured pieces of plastic flotsam floating in a rock pool at Spaniard Rocks, Rhossili Bay, Gower, South Wales. Even in the most beautiful of places, flotsam – particularly plastics – can be a problem. At Rhossili Bay, it is said that most of the plastic rubbish comes from as far away as South America as there is nothing but open water between these two places. Very little plastic rubbish is thought to have been generated by local visitors.

By some quirk of fate, small pieces of plastic seem to end up en masse at the extreme north end of the beach.  The way that  they have accumulated in small rock pools on Spaniard Rocks can be seen in these photographs.  However, even though this rubbish shouldn’t be here and it may affect the environment in a detrimental way, potentially damaging habitats for the native seashore animals and plants, there is still a beauty to be found in the juxtaposition of these brightly coloured pieces of floating flotsam against the pale neutral of the Carboniferous limestone; in much the same way that the bright splashes of orange-coloured lichen and yellow-flowered rock plants enliven the stone.

There is a related post to this article. See also Gulls’ gobbets on Rhossili seashore.

 Rock pool at Spaniard Rocks, Rhossili Bay, Gower, South Wales, showing multi-coloured plastic flotsam on the water surface (2) 

Revision of a post first published 13 July 2009


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11 Replies to “Multi-coloured rock pool at Rhossili”

  1. It is beautiful, though I hate it that the sea is so often used as a place for many to dispose of garbage. The bits are so small. I wonder how many are ingested by wild creatures and wreak havoc on their digestive systems.


  2. I expect that research has been done extensively on the subject. I suppose that the effect on commercial or larger species such as fish and birds would be more obvious than for the majority of small marine and littoral invertebrates. It seems like there is not a lot that can be done about the vast amounts of this material already in the system. Fortunately, the picture shown in my blog post today is not typical of a Gower rock pool; this was an odd occurrence and would probably go unnoticed by most visitors to the beach. Nonetheless it is indicative of what is a widespread problem on a global scale.


  3. I read somewhere that a significant proportion of the world’s sand is made up now of ground down plastics; can’t recall the exact figure.
    I remember my first experience of oil spills; aged about 7, somewhere in Pembrokeshire(probably Tenby) seeing this hideous black goo on rocks and wondering what it was. Seems like a lifetime ago; back in an age of innocence in so many ways.


  4. I haven’t heard that particular story but I do know that in many places the natural sand is considered to be a finite, i.e. non-renewable, resource. I think this is true of Rhossili Bay, for example, where much of the sediment is said to have been derived from the material deposited from the bottom of ice sheets as they melted at that point. When people dredge for sand off-shore, they are permanently removing the sediments that create our beaches. If what you say about plastics making up the sand in places is true, then maybe that is the only kind of ‘sandy’ beach that future generations will know.
    I have seen a film about a huge floating island of small plastic particles, like a thick soup, in the Pacific somewhere. It has only recently been discovered because it is in an area not frequently used by shipping. It is awful to think that there are these vast garbage heaps accumulating unseen in the oceans. I think I may have a link address to the video somewhere; I’ll look it out.


  5. I don’t think I dare look; I get depressed to easily about these things and having recovered from a hormone induced funk, I’d better avoid anything that might set me up without an escape clause. But thanks; I do find it interesting, just horrifying!


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