Over the past four years, I've been taking photos of plastic and non-biodegradable debris in the dive destinations that I go to in the same way I photograph marine wildlife. This plastic bag was floating above the reef of Balicasag Island in 2017, where Green Sea turtles regularly come to feed on the abundant sea grass on the sandy bottom. I lit it up and positioned my shot as if I was shooting a Jellyfish innocently gliding with the current. The visual irony wasn't lost on me. In fact, it was intentional. Many sea turtles die due to plastic ingestion, mistaking floating plastic bags like this one as jellyfish.
Just a few days ago, The Ocean Cleanup Foundation revealed their report on the Great Pacific Garbage patch--a floating collection of plastic and non-biodegradable waste in the Pacific ocean formed by currents--and the data was shocking. The patch covers 617,000 square miles and weighs 87,000 tons and contains more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. The oldest piece of plastic they found dated to 1977.
The sad part is that this is just one of many patches in the world.
Thankfully, there are intrepid organizations and individuals working hard to generate awareness and directly address the plastic problem. The Philippines is ranked as the third worst plastic polluter of the oceans, and groups such as @savephseas
, @s.e.a.movement @plasticfree_bohol
, and @planetcora
are just some of the sparks of hope in a darkening, plastic world.
But, we can also do so much with just little, conscious decisions. Saying "no" to straws, bringing our own tumblers, eco bags and reusable packaging when we shop and dine do make a difference. Deciding not to use and/or release plastic balloons during celebrations, funerals, and the like also saves marine lives.
And so, this is my call to action directed at everyone who took time to read this post. Let's all be ambassadors for the ocean. Say no to single-use plastic and encourage others to do so.