A little like Moana, in the new Disney movie, the ocean “calls me!”. I mean how can it not? It’s filled with fascinating unknowns! However it’s this unfortunate fascination which draws most of us to it, and in turn lead us to dominate and claim it as ours. Sadly humans are the cause of many heartbreaking tragedies the oceans are facing today.
Last year I had the amazing oportunity to travel to Barcelona to conduct population surveys on cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in the Balearic Sea. Spending a week on a catamaran looking out to nothing but ocean was truly a dream come true!
Oh wait ? What’s this, a pig ?
Unfortunately the pig was the only picture of rubbish I took, as I was much more interested in taking pictures of wildlife.
That being said although I don’t have photographic evidence I can tell you now I saw many strange objects whilst out there surveying. Some of which include; a table, a chair, multiple beach balls, rope and other fishing equipment etc. We tried to collect as much as we could but as we were surveying, if we missed grabbing the object the first time we had to let it go.
Litter in the ocean can cause devastating effects! From the tiny micro beads found in your face wash, to the odd discarded table. However, perhaps the most harmful form of litter is PLASTIC! To be more specific micro- and nanoplastics! These are plastics under the 5 mm in diameter, and although you might not be able to see it as clearly as fishing line, I can tell you now it’s definitely there!
2 unfortunate victims of runaway fishing gear
Don’t worry we did what we could to help them
As I was saying before I got distracted by stingrays, some say that plastic pollution is one of the most serious environmental problems we face today. This is mostly due to these tiny bits of micro and nanoplastics being largely consumed by small organisms and slowly making there way up the food chain to us. Not only does the existence of these tiny plastics lead to our inadvertent consumption, but it also has an adverse effects on growth inhibition, behavioural disorders, reproductive dysfunction, feeding disorders, reduced viability, and even mortality of the organisms that consume them.
If that doesn’t want to make you stop eating fish maybe this will!
Our oceans are also highly at risk of being overfished. Many fish populations can not sustain our ever increasing demand for more fish. Saying that, managing fisheries sustainably is no easy feat, as it involves people to be honest about what they are doing out at sea (I will focus more on honesty and greed in upcoming blog).
Extremely brief summary of some of the services the ocean provides for us – If you want to learn more about eco-services, leave a comment to let me know.
As stated in the video, if our ocean dies, we die! So next time you go to the shops try to bring your own shopping bags. Cut down on the amount of plastic you are using, do you really need that zip lock bag? could you use a container? do you really need 2 straws, if any, in your drink? Don’t just think that correctly disposing of plastic means you can use as much as you like as no matter if it goes in the bin, it’s still highly likely to fly off of land fill into the ocean. Educate yourself on brands that practise sustainable fishing, if there is such a thing? Maybe just don’t eat fish, as you never know what they might be consuming.
If after all that you are still not that concerned about our oceans, are you at least concerned about the small communities reliant on fish as their main source of food? Many people on small islands are struggling as their fish stocks are slowly depleting leaving them with nothing to eat.
And if you are still not convinced… if you want the opportunity to swim with whales or dolphins, stop ruining their home!
I could honestly go on all day about this topic but am trying to keep it brief! If you want to learn more let me know and I can continue with a follow up blog.
All photos were taken myself, go to the about page to find out more about me
To learn more about the effects of microplastics click here.