The ‘plastic tide’ hits a local beach: when will people learn?

In a break from study, a few friends and I head drove 15 minutes down the coast to Killarney, just past the Tower Hill reserve I mentioned previously.

The aim was to dive for southern rock lobster at a less-popular spot than our usual dive haunts. This wasn’t the best day for it; not that I had the chance to get in the water as I found out that I’d left my mask and snorkel at home!

So it was a good chance to wander the beach for an hour and see what rubbish had washed up or been dumped in this area. I was inspired by Californian conservationist Sara Bayles (on Twitter @thedailyocean), who has committed to picking up rubbish on her local beach for 365 non-consecutive days.

Plastic’s not fantastic

I didn’t have scales to weigh this collection of plastic bags, ropes, butter containers and other discarded bits and pieces but the photos give a rough idea of what can be found in this 100m stretch of coast.

Just made me a bit angry as well – the bits of rope were obviously thrown out by recreational or commercial fisherman, as were the bait baskets (red mesh basket at right and black one at the rear of shot). Laziness (and obviously a lack of concern for where the rubbish ends up and what creatures it affects) must be the only reason for throwing away anything man-made into the ocean (or waterway).

If I found someone doing this, all I could ask is: how can you pollute a place that your income or just pure enjoyment comes from? AND how many pieces of plastic would you like to pick out of your fish once ‘microplastic’ becomes a normal part of a sea creature’s daily diet?

Mullet amongst the trash (disclaimer: my friend caught this fish but I thought it suited the topic well)

UPDATE: This link did the rounds on Twitter this morning so I had to post it, Lies you’ve been told about the Pacific Garbage Patch, from the always interesting io9 site.

Well-known authority on the matter, Miriam Goldstein (from Deep Sea News) helped to refute some of the myths around the Patch, including the popular one that it’s a huge floating… well, patch of garbage; that it kills most animals in the area and that it is “killing” the ocean. To grab a few choices quotes from the article:

“There are millions of small and microscopic pieces of plastic, about .4 pieces per cubic meter, floating over a roughly 2736 square km area of the Pacific. This amount has increased significantly over the past 40 years.”

“there is a class of creatures who are actually thriving as a result of the plastic influx”

“the plastisphere isn’t destroying the ocean ecosystem — the creatures who ride on the plastic are. We’re witnessing an ecosystem that is slowly falling off balance.”

Definitely worth reading the rest and looking at Miriam’s academic papers on the subject.


About oceanicexplorer

Posted on May 18, 2012, in activism, conservation, fishing, Great Ocean Road, photography, sea life, tourism, Victoria and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Hey thanks for doing this. I really liked how The Daily Ocean inspired you to get out there. And I am going to share this now on twitter and FB. The more people see that we’re facing the same plastic problem everywhere, the more hope we have of changing it….

    thanks again!

    • It’s a worthy project so I hope TDO gets the notice it deserves and inspires more people to do the same. I read a few years back about an older Californian guy who’d decided to surf every day for 10 years. What if he’d decided to also pick up rubbish each of those days as well?

  2. Plastic in the sea is a huge problem. Just google North Pacific Gyre or Great Pacific Garbage Patch and click onto the one with all the photos.

    • Exactly, the north pacific gyre is the most well known but it’s a global problem. How do you clean up 50 years of plastic fragments in one ocean basin, let alone across the world, without impacting sealife?

  1. Pingback: Plastic is the new driftwood « oceanicexplorer

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