Friday, July 22, 2011

Yes, You Are Responsible for Marine Debris

I've traveled to quite a few beaches since I was little, absolutely love the ocean and it has become a part of my passions. However, when I walk along the sand and see more than a few cigarettes, part of a rubber balloon, 4th of July firework trash, old fishing hooks, a plastic bag, or a plastic water bottle bobbing in the water it gives me a feeling that the place is not clean or imagine what else has been thrown out to sea.

Just how much debris lays under the surface of our oceans and how does this impact the lives of marine animals and you? 14 BILLION POUNDS per year according to! It's now one of the top widespread pollution problems affecting the world's oceans. Whether you realize it or not, debris has serious effects on the marine environment, our economy, and your health and safety.

Charles Moore is thinking just this. He originally founded the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in 1994 to focus on the restoration of disappearing giant kelp forests and the improvement of water quality through the preservation and re-construction of wetlands along the California coast. But in 1997 while returning to California from Hawaii aboard his catamaran, the Alguita, he chose to chart a course through the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (a circulating rotation of ocean currents normally avoided by sailors due to its light winds). In the eastern portion of the Gyre, now referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, he encountered a substantial amount of trash, mostly plastic, scattered across the area from the ocean's surface downward containing everything from large abandoned fishing nets to plastic bottles, bottle caps, toothbrushes, containers, boxes, to particles of plastic that have either been reduced from larger pieces by wave action or sunlight.

Part of Mr. Moore's current research is focusing on a better understanding of the magnitude of the human plastic “footprint” and the effects of fish ingestion of plastic on human health.

Watch below as he explains some major issues concerning our oceanic environment and how he is working to combat them.

"The base component of the marine food chain is being displaced by a non-digestible, non-nutritive component which is actually out-weighing and out-numbering the natural food.
That is our core issue."
Captain Charles Moore, AMRF Founder

Marine debris is harming our coastal communities and marine life by damaging habitats and harming animals. According to the U.S. Coast Guard:
1. Recreational boaters alone dump more than 1 pound of trash into the ocean every time they go out.
2. Merchant ships generate almost 90% of all wastes in the ocean by discarding 5.5 million containers and plastics.
3. Coastal sewage systems account for approximately 1% of ocean debris.

A modern glass bottle would take 4,000 years or more to decompose - even longer if it's in a landfill.
We use over 80,000,000,000 aluminum soda cans every year and 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour!
Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year!
One of the readers of mentioned this calculation on how much garbage he is responsible for considering approximately how much America litters into the oceans. You can calculate how much you are responsible for too, it was really interesting so I thought I'd share. Based on his calculations, I'm responsible for 332.829 pounds :/

14 billion pounds of garbage is being dumped into the ocean every year. The US is responsible for 1/3 (at least), so 4.6 billion pounds each year divided by the 304,059,724 Americans on record - and you get 15.1286067731 pounds. Multiply that by my age, and I am suddenly responsible for 560 pounds of garbage in the ocean. Of course, Derk then turned around and recommended that I consider getting a little extra garbage out while I'm there, to create a...savings for the future.

For more information about how Mr. Moore and the foundation is working to save our oceans, click here. For very interesting recycling facts that should make you recycle if you don't already, click here to visit Recycling Revolution.

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