The Big Idea

With team work we can all make the wrecks of Scapa important for the next 100 years

What’s the big idea?

Scapa Flow boasts some of the best wrecks in the world. The centenary of the scuttling, in 2019, is fast approaching and we have a plan to keep the flow in the same pristine condition that nature intended. In 2015 we teamed up with our Ghostfishing friends for our first clear up and since then they have returned each year to continue the fight against marine litter! A significant amount of litter, including over 2km of rope, lost fishing gear, a multitude of different plastics and even a vacuum cleaner has been removed over the years. We want to continue with cleaning up Scapa and plans for 2018 are already being put into motion.....

The aim is simple and picking up litter is straightforward. Our strength, we hope, is to bring a community together to work together, create tools for solutions and then make a difference. With this team work we can all make the wrecks of Scapa important for the next 100 years too!

What will we clean up?

There are 3 main types of litter having an impact on the wrecks and the visiting divers.

  • Firstly, there are all the old shots, ropes and weights using by the divers in their exploration that for various reason have been cut or lost but yet remain as a hazard or unsightly mess.
  • Secondly a rag tag collection of various types of fishing gear has been lost on the wreck and again forms a hazard or continues to Ghostfish.
  • Lastly, there is an accumulation of unsightly litter that just should be removed.
Diver with Buckie pot
Buckie pots

How will we clean it up?

The SeaCleanMachine reporting App in now fully active and allows for any diver visiting Scapa wrecks to click on an interactive map and record the presence of any litter needing to be removed. This information will feed into a wider record so that items can be prioritised for removal. A record will also be kept to get a grasp of the scale of the problem and to allow a scientific analysis of the impact. So get reporting now! 
Returning debris to the surface.

Who can get involved?

The community is at the very heart of this project and we want as many people to be involved as possible. The more people that are involved, the more litter can be collected! To find out how you can make a difference go to the 'Get Involved' section now.
"Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub."
"Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub."

Why clear up Scapa Flow?

I think there is a part within us all that hates to see litter, wherever that may be. If you are the person that will pick a sweetie wrapper up and takes it home, you will understand.There is another level that the BigScapaCleanup works too. The wrecks will not last forever on the seabed but they can last forever in our records and our memories. By removing this rubbish we are saying that the wrecks are important, that they should be cared for and that we want to see them safe for as long as possible. By being good custodians of these important wrecks, we hope we can preserve their memory, respect their importance in the Historical record and maintain the high standard of diving safety in Scapa Flow.

Science I hear you say?

We understand that the wrecks have become a stable habitat for a wealth of animals that couldn't live there without them. We are currently working with Heriot Watt Orkney campus to measure the impact ghost gear may be having on animals. By collecting data from each year of ghost fishing we create a knowledge base that may be able to help us understand how and why litter is becoming entangled on wrecks, and if there is anything we can do to help.