Plastic's not fantastic!
We are using our oceans as a rubbish bin. Billions of pounds of plastic can be Without thinking we throw our single use plastics away not bothering to think where they may end up. 80% of litter in the ocean originates from land,
As divers, we are the ambassadors of our oceans and it is our job to help keep them tidy and debris free. You'll never see a diver throwing a cigarette butt off the back of a boat or leaving a plastic water bottle at the beach. We understand the importance of keeping our oceans tidy, and in turn, healthy. Here's something to think about, ho long do you think it takes for your baby's nappy to decompose after you used it once and threw it away? Check out this diagram below for some surprising truths that may make you think twice about what you use on a day to day basis.
50 years for one styrofoam cup to decompose. 50! As shocking as some of these time frames may be, it surely makes you stop and think about what you throw away and how you throw it away.
Dive sites are becoming ruined by floating bits and bobs or carrier bags wrapped around corals. In an ideal world things like this would not be the norm. However, in this throw away society our destructive habits are spoiling our beautiful surroundings, Rubbish in our oceans is, unfortunately, the norm. And it's getting worse.
Recently some heartbreaking pictures were taken in Nusa Lembongan by Nick Pumphrey. They showed the magnificent manta ray, gliding through waters highly polluted with everyday plastics. When asked about the experience, Nick said it was "shocking and unexpected".
Nick sad "As i said it was a strange day. We were told we were unlucky to see that, I think we were lucky to see it, because you hear about it a lot, but it's only when you see it with your own eyes that it makes an impact on you, and makes you want to try and do something about it."
And we definitely should try to do something about it. One of our instructors here at Dive Central Gili has been to this same spot and took some video footage of the mantas. Ryan said " It was disgusting. It is such a shame because it is a beautiful place to dive apart from the rubbish." You can see one of the shocking videos at our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/divecentralgili/videos/vb.748743585193320/901186989948978/?type=2&theater
Some shocking facts about plastic:
Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times!
44% of all seabird species, 22% of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.
Plastic debris causes deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as 100,000 marine mammals.
Marine wildlife often mistake plastic bags for food, especially sea turtles hunting jelly fish. Plastic bags have regularly been found blocking the breathing passages and stomachs of many marine species including whales, dolphins and turtles.
This is the Citarum is the third longest river in Java, but has also been described as the most polluted river in the world. It s not hard to see why! This shocking image is pretty hard to believe, but it is the harsh reality for the five million people living in the river basin, relying on the river for either drinking, bathing or agriculture.
The area the river flows through was rapidly industrialised in the 1980's. Today there are over 500 factories lining the 320 kilometre river each donating it's own large amount of chemical waste into the river. Shockingly, human toilet waste, domestic waste and anything that needs to be disposed of is carelessly thrown into the river. In December 2008 a loan of $500 million was approved by the Asian Development Bank to help clean up the river. Obviously, the Citarum River is a pretty extreme case and not something that can be solved easily, or immediately. But we do need to do something.
So, how can we help? There's loads of things that you can do to reduce the amount of plastics in our oceans. The big mistake people always make is that they think they can only do small things that won't change anything, so they choose to do nothing, embracing the mentality that their small contribution won't change the world's problem. But if everyone did do a small thing, everyday, we could begin to make a dent in this epidemic.
Ridding the ocean of all things plastic or harmful is no mean feat. However, as the saying goes, every little helps. We can all aid in keeping our oceans a rubbish-free place by changing the teeniest of things in our day to day lives. These few changes above can be added to your everyday routine.
Purely in diving terms, every dive should be a dive against debris dive. Take a small mesh bag with you, stuff it in your BCD pocket and when you see rubbish littering up a dive site, grab it, bag it and bring it up with you. You can even log your world-saving-rubbish-collection dives with PADI, Project AWARE and their Dive Against Debris program! For more information pop this address in to your browser and find out how you can save our oceans, a dive at a time! http://www.projectaware.org/project/dive-against-debris
A few days ago whilst diving I saw a carrier bag drifting with the current. Getting closer to grab it, I noticed a teeny crab stuck inside! I set him free and pocketed the bag. It's just a small good deed for the day, but these small deeds all add up and contribute to cleaner, tidier oceans.
Let's work together to rid our oceans of as much plastic pollution as possible! Plastic's not fantastic!