The sea is our blue office, the marine habitat where we can meet our oceanic friends. Unfortunately, this habitat is often very polluted. One of the focal points is plastic waste. 10% of the garbage that floats in the sea comes from boats, the rest is transported to the sea via rivers, which are veritable conveyor belts of garbage.
Plastic in the sea is ubiquitous and a major problem for all sea creatures and those who feed on the sea. More recent calculations assume 19-23 million tons per year that end up in this sensitive ecosystem. The visible portion of plastic is only a small fraction of the amount accumulated in the ocean. Salt, sun and the power of the waves work on the plastic parts and grind them down to the smallest particles, which are then hardly visible, but are still there. A plastic bag needs 10 to 20 years, a Styrofoam cup about 50 years and a PET bottle about 450 years to decompose. Even in one of the smallest sea creatures, the zooplankton, nano particles of the plastic have been detected. In the Mariana Trench (11,000 meters), the deepest point in our oceans, plastic was found on the seabed.
The WWF, in cooperation with the Alfred Wegner Institute, published a new study that addresses the effects of marine biodiversity.
The WWF’s Global plastic navigator is also interesting:
There are many ways in everyday life to reduce plastic consumption and thus contribute to less pollution of our oceans. Plastic bags; PET bottles; six pack holder; synthetic textiles; cosmetics, such as scrubs, that contain plastic particles; lighters; Disposable razors are just a few items for which an alternative can be found.
Unfortunately, our plans for this year’s World Ocean Day litter tour, investigating how long litter has been floating in the ocean, were thwarted by a bad weather front called Oscar. The storm threw the rubbish that had eventually ended up in the sea back at our feet. As soon as the weather conditions have calmed down and we find time, we will start one of our beach clean-ups. In the meantime, we will of course collect the garbage that we discover on our whale watching tours if possible.
by Fatima Kutzschbach