Chloe Pavely: Celebrating a season of sun and seagrass

Torbay Weekly

Since writing my last column, I have received some really inspiring and lovely emails from people sharing their ideas and projects from various backgrounds and sectors, and I would like to take a moment to thank you for getting in contact and for your kind words.

It looks like there’s creative and vibrant energy in the local area full of forward thinking and new ideas and I cannot wait to get stuck in and help.

There is just three days left of the season 2021 for Fishcombe Cove Café before we close the front hatch ready for Winter to reopen in Easter next year… and I’m sat here thinking to myself, where has this year gone?

We started this year with lockdowns, uncertain news of restrictions, the future and limited information on the new vaccine coming into play yet here we are in October, and yes the virus is still very much a huge concern and issue, however life has opened up again.

Music gigs, festivals, theatres and gatherings have been taking place over the summer. Shops, bars, eateries are open without the strict rules in place. The majority of us have had the double dose of vaccinations and now the boosters are in place to keep us that extra bit safer. It’s certainly interesting to look back and think how life has changed since earlier this year.

Despite the season coming to an end for us at Fishcombe, we have certainly had exciting things happening on the Cove. Firstly, after quite literally years of planning and organising, the Wild Planet Trust amongst other teams and projects officially installed not just one, or two but three eco-friendly moorings between Fishcombe and Churston Cove.

For those who don’t know, just off the Cove on the seabed lays a football pitch size bed of Seagrass  growing in abundance. Within the seagrass, it presents a home for the likes of seahorses, lobsters and many other beautiful species of marine life and it is flourishing (which hasn’t always been the case), only in the last year or so we can see how it’s thriving, which is why it’s been so important to do our bit to protect it.

Seagrass takes up to three years to grow, so whilst it creates a wonderful home for marine life, it’s not an overnight process. Not only that, but seagrass is responsible for absorbing carbon dioxide. WWF explains on their website “seagrass captures carbon up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests and, even though it only covers 0.2% of the seafloor, it absorbs 10% of the ocean's carbon each year.” I’m going to let you read that quote again to let it sink in.  Madness!

If you picture that and then imagine the hot summer months when we have perfect beach days and flat calm seas, it is no wonder that those who have boats come out and enjoy the sunshine by heading over to the Coves. Now, if you’re not aware of the magic taking place under the sea, how would you know how important it is not to drop your anchor on the seabed?

With that in mind, last year - when we had the hottest summer on record (I’m unsure if that’s an actual fact, but it’s how I recall it) you can’t blame the people who jumped on the boats to bask in the sunshine just a few metres off the Coves, at one point we counted 17 boats in total… and with only one mooring buoy out there, you can only imagine how much damage those anchors would’ve caused.

Which is when the wild swimmers and members of our community started raising awareness via social media and talking to the people on boats, creating a conversation. Down at the Café, we hosted a Seagrass Talk with the wonderful team from Wild Plant Trust to keep the conversation going and raise awareness.

In the background, they had teams of people working alongside designing and manufacturing in order to create seagrass friendly mooring buoys, there were the teams who worked at applications for grants and securing funding, marine biologists, divers ensuring they could carry out the work safely. Health & safety teams to ensure boats could moor up safely, the list goes on and on.

And as you can imagine, this took some time- were talking years here.  But here we are, as I look out across the Cove, there are now three big bright orange buoys bobbing on the water, ready and welcome for boats of most sizes to come and enjoy the Cove without causing any damage. Talk about compromising at its finest!

Looking after our beaches is just as important to us as it is our waters, so for the duration of Half-Term week, we are encouraging people to look out for micro plastic on the Coves. The strong winds have washed up lots of micro plastics up on to the Cove (along with lots of sand which is always a nice surprise) and we could do with your help.

We have plenty of little buckets at the Café, which we want to be filled with all of the little bits of micro plastic you may find on the beach, alongside any fishing wire or netting (if you are with children please ensure there are no hooks on the end – we will have scissors at the café if needed).

For those who can help us fill up the buckets, we will give you a little treat to say thank you for helping us look after our beaches. Just as a side note, we also have plenty of hand sanitiser and hand washing facilities at the café.

Sunday 31st will bring us Halloween and our final day at Fishcombe Cove Café! The weather looks a bit soggy and grey, but we will be celebrating the final day of the season with lots of smiles: our social media page will be filling up throughout the final weekend with behind-the-scenes events, such as the ‘who done it’ poll, the highlights of the season and plenty of photos on our stories (follow @fishcombecovecafe on Facebook and Instagram).

Although we won’t be hosting an event this Halloween, we are certainly encouraging all vampires, ghosts, and ghouls to visit us in their fancy-dress costumes throughout the day, for every person who dresses up will get a trick or treat from us at the café!