Photo Credit: Silence Like Thunder
Paradise is the last place you would expect to see trash. Unfortunately, even paradise can’t escape trash. Caribbean islands find trash washing up on their shores and litter scattered across the sea floor all the time. It is not a postcard picture at all when tourists and locals come across trash scattered along the beach. It is an ugly reality that exists. Why is this happening? To start, littering and lack of recycling. The ocean is not a trash can, yet we seem to treat it like one. It is a nasty habit that has gone on way too long all over the world. Our oceans, marine life and wildlife are suffering from this dirty habit. Marine life and our ocean’s ecosystem feel the impact the most. Marine debris is a huge problem. Trash in the sea causes the ocean to become unhealthy. An unhealthy ocean is bad for everyone, including the planet. We need a healthy ocean because the ocean produces half of the oxygen that we breathe and it also provides us with a source of food.
So how much trash is in the ocean?
There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea. (National Geographic)
The Negative Implications of Trash in The Ocean and on the Beach
While trash is floating through the ocean marine life often mistake it for food. If they eat the trash such as plastic, it will wreck havoc on their body resulting in their death. Some marine life, such as turtles, find themselves tangled up in the trash. Subsequently, causing them to drown if they cannot break free. Biodiversity and ecosystems are in danger when trash is dumped into the ocean. Some trash, such as plastic, may contain toxins or chemical pollutants that seep into the ocean disrupting habitats and the balance of the ocean. Birds are also at risk. When birds flock to the beach scavenging for food they also end up eating bits of plastic because they mistake it for food and it leads to their death.
The costs of plastic debris to marine ecosystems are estimated at 13 billion dollars a year. (Project Aware)
Cleaning Up The Mess We Made
The dirty habit of littering needs to stop! Trash belongs in a trash can and even better in recycle bins- not in the ocean or on the beach. Plastic is one of the top items of trash found on beaches. Plastic can be recycled. The easiest way to keep the ocean and our beaches clean is to keep the trash out to begin with. Even with trash and recycle bins placed on beaches, somehow trash still ends up outside of the bins.
Photo Credit: Cliodhna Doherty, Barkers Beach
Sadly, the issue of trash circulating in the ocean and washing up on the shores of beaches is a problem we face locally. Having litter on the beach or floating around in the sea is a problem both for our environment and tourism. No tourist wants to visit our famous beaches and lay down their beach towel and see a piece of trash staring back at them. Thankfully, one local environmentalist, Morgan Ebanks is encouraging the public to join her and her friends in cleaning up Cayman’s beaches. This Sunday, they are planning to clean up Barkers Beach from 9:00am-12:00pm. If you want to help keep Cayman’s beaches clean, join Morgan in her efforts to help protect our environment.
Did you know?
The Ugly Journey of Our Trash
with love, from one ocean lover to another, xo