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?

Here in Scapa we know we have some of the best wrecks in the world. And what’s more, they lie in some of the best waters in the world. 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 and had our first clear up. We successfully removed a significant amount of litter including rope, plastics, lost fishing gear and assorted rubbish. The week also highlighted a number of points. Firstly, there is still lots left to remove and secondly there is a big positive swell of people wanting to lend a hand. The team assembled at the end of the week and made a plan.

This year we will get together again with our Ghostfishing friends and assemble a team to run another week to remove more rubbish. We will also work from a list of the main areas where litter has collected so we can target our efforts better. The list will be made using the seacleanmachine App that enables divers to report litter by clicking on an interactive wreck map on the BigScapaCleanup website. Rubbish collected will be recorded and the totals can be tallied to get an idea of the scale of the problem.

The aim is simple and picking up litter is straightforward. Our strength, we hope, is to bring a community together to have a conversation, join forces 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?

This project will build upon the successful 2015 Ghostfishing week that saw the first major removal of marine rubbish in Scapa Flow. We will be working with our Ghostfishing friends in 2016 to run another clearup week in Scapa Flow and continue the clearup project.A reporting App  is under development so that any diver visiting the wrecks can click on an interactive map to record the presence of any litter present and needing removal. This information will feed into a wider record so that items can be prioritised for removal, a record kept to get a grasp of the scale of the problem and to allow a scientific analysis of the impact. The App tool in itself so that the trials on the trial can go to developing a wider app that can be used on any cleanup project anywhere.
Returning debris to the surface.

Who can get involved?

The community is at the very heart of this project, we want as many people to be involved as possible. By using the app to report anything you think should be removed, you can be part of the project. The app will trialed in Scapa Flow before being used in other projects around the UK so please let us know your thoughts about the App so that we can make that better too. The Ghostfishing 2016 week is in the planning stages as we speak so if you want to be involved more directly, please feel free to get in touch.
"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.

What's the science bit?

Over the years they have become a stable habitat and become colonised with a wealth of animals that couldn’t live there without the protection of the wreck. The BigScapaCleanup will be working closely with the scientists at Heriot Watt Orkney campus so record and measure the nature impacted by the wrecks, the litter and the clean up. Quantifying the problem is a new idea and here in Scapa Flow we hope to lead the way.