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Beachcombing for a safe barefoot environment

New Springer book, The Beachcomber’s Guide to Marine Debris, documents and takes a quizzical look at the vast array of man-made rubbish in our seas and on our shores, with hints and tips on how to combat it

Heidelberg | London, 5 December 2019  

Book cover: The Beachcomber’s Guide to Marine DebrisA trip to the beach is a resounding favourite: a picnic, breathing in the refreshing salty breeze, and feeling the shards of glass and plastic between one’s toes. The planet’s seas and oceans have become dumping grounds for virtually every sort of waste, much of which washes up ashore and persists for decades or even centuries.

In his satirical, yet poignant, new book, Michael Stachowitsch takes the reader on a world tour highlighting the devastating impact of a wide variety of man-made materials on beaches, riverbanks and lakesides as well as on their inhabitants.
“Today’s beachcomber is more likely to be confronted with trash than with the natural elements of the ecosystem. This is equally true for remote islands as it is for heavily populated tourist beaches”, says Stachowitsch.

The Beachcomber’s Guide to Marine Debris goes beyond the expectations of a traditional guidebook in that it uniquely addresses the fate of plastics and other coastal litter, rather than that of the usual flora and fauna. With the support of 600 telling colour photographs, the guidebook details the sources of, decomposition stages and prevention strategies for 15 major categories of beach litter - from unsavory cigarette butts and plastic bottles to downright deadly hypodermic needles. Stachowitsch’s tone, however, is not at all reprimanding; it simply illustrates the facts. He provides abundant clean-up recommendations, tips for recycling and upcycling as well as more eco-friendly product alternatives.

The book is as informative as it is thought-provoking. Apart from being an aesthetic issue, marine debris poses a threat to wildlife, ecosystem health, human safety, and the economic welfare of coastal communities worldwide. The book animates readers to become “beach detectives” assigned the commendable task of restoring beaches, lakeshores and riverbanks to their natural beauty. 

The humorous narratives, the wealth of material knowledge and, of course, the fundamental ideology of the book make it a must-read for anyone actively engaged in local and international coastal clean-ups as well as those concerned with environmental issues in general. The wider audience and avid photographers alike will also appreciate the vivid images of weathered marine debris. 

Michael Stachowitsch, Ph.D., teaches at the University of Vienna in the Department of Limnology and Bio-Oceanography. His interests include seafloor communities, habitat degradation, marine debris, sea turtles and coral reef ecology. He is the long-term Austrian coordinator of a Mediterranean sea turtle conservation project in Turkey, and also represents Austria at the International Whaling Commission.

Michael Stachowitsch
The Beachcomber’s Guide to Marine Debris
2019, 373 p. 4 illus., 605 illus. in colour.   
Softcover £ 27,99 | CHF 39,00 | 32,99 € | 36,29 € (A) | 35,30 € (D) | ISBN 978-3-319-90727-7
Also available as an eBook 

Further information
Services for Journalists

Journalists can request a digital review copy of the book The Beachcomber’s Guide to Marine Debris.


Kevin Grant | Springer Nature | Communications
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