June 8 is a significant date. Aside from possible personal reasons, it's also World Oceans Day since its inception in 1992. While it's meant to be a celebration, recent years have also shown it's a grave reminder of the deteriorating state of the waters we so love. A few years ago, people were nagging (and debating) on the ban of plastic bags, or for some places, a fee should you wish to use one for your shopping. Recently, the topic extended to plastic straws.
What people don't understand is that plastic, in general, harms everyone. Not just because it pollutes the ocean—8 million tonnes of plastic per year end up in the waters. Not just because it kills sea life—the lives of around 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are compromised per year. Not just because it harms marine resources—up to $8 billion worth of damage is caused to the marine ecosystems each year because of plastic. It's a domino effect and it will come to us.
Many of us talk so passionately about beach holidays, island hopping and dive trips. On those particular getaways, we sometimes notice a piece of plastic or two—or more. Do we pick it up? Do we consider that there's more out there in the middle of the ocean or in the stomachs of marine life? We don't often see it but these photos are real, raw, ugly and heartbreaking. Would you still use a plastic bag or straw after seeing them?
1. The turtle with a straw in its nose that became the "poster-child" of anti-straw campaigns
4. A hermit crab in Okinawa resorts to using a plastic bottle cap to protect its soft abdomen
5. This sperm whale died from gastric shock after ingesting 64 pounds (approximately 29kg) of plastic
This beached juvenile Sperm #Whale was found off the coast of #Spain. If it looks emaciated, it's because it starved to death. In its stomach was 64 lbs of #plastic, causing an infection. Our #Oceans are drowning in a sea of plastic. We need to break our addiction. pic.twitter.com/oICIlyGHJw
6. A shocking sea of plastic floating near the Caribbean island of Roatan
"Everywhere we looked, plastic bags of all shapes and sizes: chip bags, zip locks, grocery, trash, snack bags, other packaging. Some were whole and the rest were just pieces. Sadly, many turtles, fish, whales, and seabirds will mistake those bits of plastic for food," said Caroline Power, a photographer who specialises in underwater photography and highlighting the damage that plastic waste is doing to the ocean.
7. This was taken at the Manta Point dive site in Bali
As we said, we don't often see sights like this. This isn't a photo but what better way to capture that vast amount of waste in the waters. The next day, the divers reported that the currents had taken all this trash away and the site looked like it was back to 'normal'.
But in reality, that scene merely shifted to another part of the Indian Ocean. If our current use of plastics is causing scenarios like that today, what more ten years from now if nothing changes? It's World Oceans Day. How will you celebrate the ocean you so love?