Happy Earth Day

I’ll put up a post on the shark research later, but since its Earth Day, I wanted to take a minute and talk about something that I care deeply about…garbage.   I’ve done a lot of research on garbage and plastics in the past. Something we found was that Long Islanders (NY), produced nearly twice as much garbage that the average American! Not exactly a statistic we should be proud of. And, much of our garbage these days is made up of plastic. Plastics are a huge problem for our oceans. It is rare that I visit a beach these days and don’t see a plastic water bottle lying in the sand or plastic bags blowing in the wind. From the over populated beaches on Long Island, to the empty beaches on Andros, Bahamas.

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Plastic jug on the beach in Andros, Bahamas.

The problem isn’t just garbage and plastic littering our beaches – most of it ends up in our oceans. Plastic takes a long time to break down. Sea turtles choke on plastic bags that look like a common prey item of theirs – jellyfish. Dolphins and sharks get tangled in old plastic fishing line and drown. Sea birds die from their bellies being stuffed with lighters and bottle caps.

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Plastic littering the beach near Fresh Creek, Andros.

And the story doesn’t get better when plastics finally break down into smaller pieces. These micro-plastics clog the guts of fish, which get eaten by seabirds and larger fish like sharks.

Plastics are everywhere in the oceans. Even as I am writing this post on the back of the boat, I’m watching a plastic bottle bopping up and down in the water, slowly being carried away by the current out sea.

So on this Earth Day, make a pledge to reduce the amount of plastic you use this year. Instead of buying bottled water, get a reusable bottle or use water fountains. Ask for tap water at restaurants – it is often better quality than bottled water anyway. When you take a walk on the beach, make an effort to pick up at least one piece of trash each time (and trust me, you will see more than one piece). Adopt the age-old saying of leaving a place better than you found it.

We need to do better.

 

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