Tractor tyres, plastic bottles and fishing equipment collected in National Trust litter pick at sea
Tractor tyres, lobster pots and plastic bottles are just some of the items National Trust rangers have collected from the stunning coastline near Giants Causeway.
Swimmers, jet skis and small boats were enlisted to help reach bays at the bottom of steep cliffs close to the Unesco World Heritage Site.
It is the charity’s third litter pick at sea, an area teeming with wildlife from pods of dolphins to breeding seabirds, porpoises and even the occasional orca.
Although this year’s litter pick has not yet been weighed, last August volunteers lifted more than two tonnes of rubbish and it is thought a similar amount may have been removed this time round.
The initiative came after National Trust rangers noticed litter gathering on the remote beaches from cliff top paths close to the Giant's Causeway, while carrying out daily litter picks.
Fiona Bryant, coastal officer for the National Trust in Northern Ireland, said they enlisted local outdoor activity providers to help.
"With the mixture of different clubs - coasteering, surf and a dive school - along with fishing vessels, it has been really helpful to get into each of the bays and make an impact by lifting the litter there," she said.
However even with all that expertise, operating on the often treacherous section of coastline - including the point where in 1588 the Spanish Armada's Girona sank - demands a lot of preparation.
Much of the litter is washed up by high tides and storms, and it can become lodged in rocks, making it hard to remove.
"This point in the sea can be very stormy, and there is a lot of preparation goes into planning a day like this, from weather and tide conditions to the activity providers being available, our conservation rangers and all the staff," she said.
"Trying to get everything co-ordinated on the same day is quite an operation.
"The volunteers have to swim to each bay to pick everything up and swim back so there is only so much you can do in one day."
Ms Bryant described the litter collected as a "real mixture".
"There is household waste, plastics and some from the fishing industry such as ghost netting, ropes, lobster pots, plastic crates.”
Last year the charity removed more than a thousand plastic bottles from the site. The Trust warned of the dangers of plastic pollution in the sea to wildlife – but implored visitors and the public to do their bit to help by removing their own waste, but also building litter picking into their day out.
For further information please contact: Paul Adcock, Senior Communications Manager at the National Trust, 07920 414542 or firstname.lastname@example.org