Volunteers remove piles of rubbish from Durlston Bay by boat

A team, including a Dorset-based record breaking swimmer, has cleared discarded lobster pots and other plastic from Durlston Bay in Swanage, giving it a much needed clean up.

Because the shore between Durlston Head and Peveril Point is quite inaccessible, and there was so much rubbish to collect, the volunteers made use of a dinghy pulled by a local water sports speedboat to complete the task.

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Durlston Bay clean up
Mike Hadley

The team picked up heaps of plastic waste along the shoreline

“Old lobster pots and other plastic waste”

The debris included plastic bottles and containers, ropes and many old lobster pots. Much of it had already been gathered into heaps above the high-water mark earlier in the year by Oly Rush, who runs an organisation called Project Planet.

Oly is also well known locally for ultra-marathon swimming to raise money for his eco projects.

Oly said:

“Over the last winter I collected a load of old lobster pots and other plastic waste and got them away from the shoreline so they wouldn’t be taken out to sea again, so it was nice to finally get round to disposing of it all.”

Oly Rush
Oly Rush

Oly Rush, founder of Project Planet

“Great to have a team at work”

Local resident Mike Hadley said:

“It was great to finally get the mess cleared off the beach, and seeing a seal enjoy the sea whilst we were clearing the rubbish was a stark reminder to us why we do what we do.

“I always try to pick up stuff whenever I can, but it was great to have a team at work to really get stuck in.”

Danny Bolar, Mike Hadley and Ant McCourt
Mike Hadley

Left to right: Danny Bolar of Studland Watersports, Mike Hadley and Ant McCourt of Mack

“No hesitation to help out”

Tracey Waters, co-owner of Studland Watersports which lent the boat, said:

“We are very passionate about keeping the beaches clean and the fight against plastic pollution. When Oly approached us to help clear the rubbish from an area that is impossible to get to with a vehicle there was no hesitation to help out.”

Tracey Waters
Mike Hadley

Tracey Waters of Studland Watersports lent the speedboat

“Tough work”

Claire Negri, of Poole-based firm Mack, which sells refillable biotech cleaning materials, said:

“The rubbish had already been gathered up so that made things easier. It was still tough work on the day, but we had a good team and many hands make light work!”

Durlston Bay clean up
Mike Hadley
Durlston Bay clean up
Mike Hadley

Towing the dinghy of waste away

“Plastic pollution is horrendous”

The delay in completing the clean up had been caused in part by Oly’s incredible sporting and campaign activism. In May 2022, he went to the Caribbean to swim around Grand Cayman.

It was a feat that the swimmer, who currently works as a plasterer, achieved in 36 hours 59 minutes. It was the first non-stop swim around the island and has just been recognised by the Guinness Book of Records.

He explained:

“I had been to the Cayman Islands before and the plastic pollution is horrendous, it’s on a whole other level.”

Oly Rush completes Grand Cayman swim
Maggie Jackson

Oly Rush swam non-stop round Grand Cayman island

“Turning point”

In all, he was there for eight weeks, working with an organisation called Plastic Free Cayman, and the preparation included awareness-raising with local schoolchildren.

He said:

“It was the first time I had done school visits and to be honest I was more scared of doing them than the actual swim. But the trip proved a big turning point and now I can’t wait to get back into schools.”

Oly Rush completes Grand Cayman swim
Maggie Jackson
Oly Rush completes Grand Cayman swim
Maggie Jackson

Oly Rush comes ashore to a hero’s welcome after his incredible recordbreaking feat around Grand Caymon

Swimming challenges

The challenge raised $25,000 for Plastic Free Cayman and £10,000 for his own charity, spurring him on to obtain full charity status, which is expected within the next few months.

In 2020, Oly swam the length of the Jurassic Coast in ten days raising £10,000. The following year, he set the fastest time for swimming solo round the Isle of Wight at 15 hours and 9 minutes.

The team on Friday 12th August 2022 took about three hours to clear the stretch of coastline.  

Oly completes Jurassic Coast swim

Oly completing his Jurassic Coast swim in Studland in 2020

Further information

More about Project Planet is on its website.

Durlston Bay clean up
Mike Hadley

The clean up happened on the same day as the Studland heath fire started, which can be seen in the background as the speedboat tows the plastic waste away

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