More than 100 volunteers took part in the Great British Beach Clean in Worthing, helping to reduce litter in the area, while collating the results for a national survey.
Part of a weekend of national beach surveys, the litter analysis provided data for both the Marine Conservation Society and Worthing Borough Council.
Volunteers found there was less rubbish than in previous years, possibly due to the impact of the TV programme Blue Planet 2, as people have taken to clearing up rubbish left on the coast.
Organisers noticed fast food wrappers, picnic litter and cigarette ends had been left but there had been a reduction in commercial fishing litter.
Ecologist Dr Barbara Pilley Shaw, who has organised the event for the past nine years, said: “A bigger problem now is angling litter – hooks and lures that can easily penetrate the foot of an unsuspecting bather, lead weights and nylon line that looks like seaweed and can trap sea-dwelling creatures, including birds.
“It would be wonderful if all beach and pier anglers could spend time gathering up and removing angling litter from the beach at low tide.”
There is also the problem of ‘nurdles’ which are small plastic beads a few millimetres in diameter, used in the manufacture of plastic items and also in water and other chemical treatment processes.
Nurdles bed into the shingle or are washed out to sea where they can be eaten by marine life including fish which humans eat.
Sarah Ward, living seas officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust, also carried out a survey of shark and ray egg cases, sending results to The Shark Conservation Trust helping to keep track of these fish, which are being preserved by the Kingsmere Marine Conservation Zone off Worthing’s coast. Undulate ray cases were common but others may be falling in number.
Environmental stalls at Worthing Food and Drink Festival and the Light Festival linked with the beach clean.
Barbara said: “It is a lovely sustainable event, bringing us all together and showing we can enjoy things and still get the message out there.