I find it incredible how people have this idea that the sea is in infinite abyss where you can dump rubbish and it will magically disappear forever! Actually the sea is more like a boomerang! Anything you dump in it will sooner or later come back and smack you in the back of the head!
I felt like I needed to rant over this issue whilst strolling down the 3km beach front that runs parallel to the coral reef here in Puerto Morelos in the Caribbean. I’ll give you a brief overview of the situation. As I left our condo I am confronted by a computer screen half buried in the sand, whilst walking I encounter numerous plastic bottles, styrofoam cups, bottle lids, glass bottles, a trainer, 3 flip flops and some other plastic shoe, a plastic sieve, numerous food wrappings, a check shirt, plastic bags, an empty sunscreen bottle, a toothbrush and other general waste! Now as far as I’m aware this is meant to be a pristine paradise, the kind of place where you get married and honeymooners stroll hand in hand and you have a massage on the beach, not a household waste tip! Most of this was washed in with the high tide and was probably dumped from boats or other resorts. It reminds me of something I was once told, the Sargasso sea is located in the Bermuda triangle and is boarded on all sides by currents so that it is completely isolated just swirling round and round and is the root of Bermuda triangle folktales. It is due to this that it is actually one of the largest rubbish tips in the world, accumulating rubbish from other seas which gets stuck there and just moves round the 1.4 million square miles! Further research has led me to find that a similar dump occurs in the Pacific known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch where the amount of rubbish is equal to the area of Texas and mainly consists of plastic, which is slow to degrade and breaks down in to small plastic pieces which are hazardous to animals.
I come to ask myself why. Why do people think that rubbish in the sea will magically disappear, and why do they pollute one of the worlds most beautiful environments which leads to the pollution of tourist spots around the world. It’s just like shitting in your own back yard! I think its this logic people have that if it doesn’t affect then right here right now then the consequences will never equate. Its like animal owners especially cat owners, I’m not saying this is true of them all but it is often the case that if the animal doesn’t crap in their own yard they seam to forget that it means it is going in the neighbors! My mother battles especially with this issue buying numerous cat repellent products in an attempt to steer away the offending animals. How are people so wrapped up in their own bubbles that the fail to realize the impacts on others from irresponsible pet owners to dumping rubbish in the sea.
This is not the first time that this issue has appeared on my radar. In 2010 I spent some time living on the Isle of Man and working with the environment agency on a project involving fishermen which involved me going out on fishing trips. On one such occasion I was drinking a coke and eating some food when the skipper offered me a plastic bag to throw my rubbish in, moments later I saw him throwing the whole bag overboard! Now what was the point in tidying the rubbish in to a bag to then just dump it overboard! They do these trips at least 200 times a year, if they always throw the rubbish overboard, and if every boat does the same, then that’s a lot of rubbish floating around caused by those that depend on the sea for a source of income. That just seams counter-intuitive to me, shouldn’t you want to protect your livelihood! Its like diving towns that depend on the reef fish and corals to attract divers, but then you see corals and shells all over the shops, often ripped live from the reef! This is the pathway to self destruction.
If we want to keep our planet clean then we need to throw rubbish in the bins and recycle as much as possible to prevent pollution of your next beach holiday! Do you really want to snorkel and have the highlight be an old coke can rather than colorful reef fish?? I though not! So next time you dispose of rubbish, take a second to consider where it will end up and weather it will come back to haunt you in the years to come.
Rant over, thanks for listening!