My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.
Everywhere we go these days there are plastic bags, bottles and other trash. Even walking up to the source of the river Ganges, the holy river of India, that high in the Himalayas in 2008 I gathered kilos of garbage dropped by pilgrims eager for the blessings of Mother Ganges but content to throw unwanted water bottles and biscuit wrappers in her face.
Walk on any beach in the world today and you will for certain find the plastic detritus of industrial civilzation. But out at sea, away from land, away from people, away from shipping, the water’s pure and the oceans are still pristine – right?
Well actually no. The United Nations has estimated that there are 46,000 plastic objects in every square mile of ocean in the world. Research by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation has shown that in the areas where (because of winds and currents) the plastics tend to gather, there may be six to ten times more plastic than plankton measured by weight. And most of these items are really small – small enough to be mistaken as food by fish and birds. What they “eat” may be carrying ONE MILLION times more pollution such as pcbs than the ambient sea water they are floating in. Studies have already shown that birds do absorb these toxins into their tissue. Evidently the fishing industry hasn’t yet studied fish tissue.
Watch a video from the Algalita Foundation: Watch “Pelagic Plastic”
Website of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation
Wikipedia article about plastic pollution on beaches.
Wikipedia article about marine pollution.