Whether it is through surfing, swimming, sunbathing or drinking water, we can all agree that we love it: water, any and every form of it – ocean, lake or stream.
The seas, like the rest of our 70% blue planet, are infinitely valuable, precious and vitally important. We cannot afford to continue to live and consume without thinking of the consequences of our actions.
It is clear that we humans have not done a good job sustaining and maintaining a healthy world. We are destroying, trashing and killing animals, places, and our fellow human beings.
The man-made ‘wonder material’, made for all purposes – plastic – is finding its way into rivers, streams, lakes, the oceans and our drinking water (bottled and tap). We cannot escape it. Our oceans have become garbage sites, with floating trash in every corner of our seas – garbage patches can be found across oceans.
The worrying thing is that plastic’s effect on the body is largely unknown – the future is unclear and the health of generations to come. However, what we do know is that millions of marine and coastal animals die each year due to ingestion of plastic pieces and particles. Despite lack of knowledge of the scale of harm plastic is capable of inflicting, it is clearly detrimental to our health and to the sustainable functioning of marine processes.
The problem is that much of the plastic is microscopic: microplastics. This makes it hard to detect it, to the naked eye it remains invisible. However, simply not seeing a problem does not make it go away; ignorance is clearly not bliss in the long run. Plastic waste also takes hundreds of years to degrade. Captain Charles Moore documents his findings in detail in his book called “ A Plastic Ocean” highlighting the massive sums of ocean plastic which are accumulating in the five ocean/plastic gyres.
When I was in Biarritz, France, swimming in the sea, I gradually started to notice small pieces of plastic, seemingly benign, such as a squashed Evian lid or a plastic band. However, over time they accumulated. I started to fish more and more things out of the waters. But this is only the tip of the iceberg, as much of the plastic remains out of sight and reach at the bottom of the seafloor. Here, things like plastic bottles and other junk interfere with marine life.
The tragedy, however, is that situations like this leave us hopeless and helpless; confronted with the sheer magnitude of the issue of plastic pollution, it becomes evident that one person is not able to tackle this problem alone. It requires a a global initiative and a desire for change to create a lasting difference. To address these problems would be a step towards sustainability and a more harmonious life between humans and the environment.
It is hard to explain what attracts, captivates and inspires us so much about the seas. Is it the puffer fish that creates a grand design for its mate? The art of nature? Or the life giving element of the ocean? When one is there and in the waves it is impossible to miss the energy and life that is contained within it.
Us humans just take, and take, and take, solely focused on satisfying our needs. Everything we touch we modify and is left blemished and tarnished. Things are not as they seem, a clear looking ocean, does not mean it is clean. And just because we are a landlocked country does not mean we are unaffected by what happens out at sea.
For me, the ocean is my home, and without it I feel incomplete. For many, this may not be the same, yet as the leader of Sea Shepherds states, “ if the oceans die, we die.” Part of this is because our homes will disappear too – whether they are in the desert or the jungle. We need water – water is life – whether it is in the form of the liquid we drink each day or the approximate 80% of water in a baby’s body.
We cannot afford to exploit our oceans any longer. It is time to take action to counter the destruction of our oceans and consequently our planet.
Maybe, just maybe, the next time you visit the sea you will look beyond the horizon, beyond the calm blue waters or the rough seas and look beneath it. Beneath the surface and think of what lies beyond sight – the vastness the ocean possesses. The beauty of the intrinsic functions and processes it performs every day. Perhaps you will think about the fragility and the vulnerability of each organism, that all live and seek to live in harmony, until we interfere and destroy it. Maybe then, you will look at the wave and see the energy, feel the life in it, and say to yourself : “This is worth protecting and caring for.”
Thank you !