Surfers, divers, swimmers, and general beach lovers: you have all seen the growing problem of plastic in our oceans. Recent research has backed this up, estimating at least 5 trillion plastic pieces in just the top 10cm of oceans globally and that over 690 species have been impacted by marine debris. There are also over 100 species of fish recorded with plastic in their guts, many of which are commonly eaten by people, so we’re now literally eating our own trash. It’s scary, and sometimes overwhelming, stuff.
The best way to stay positive is to remember that there are amazing people out there, who are willing to go out of their way to learn more and try to make a difference. And that it’s easy for you to make a difference too.
On a recent research trip to Moorea, French Polynesia, marine biologist Alice Forrest was lucky enough to meet up with some of these amazing people - incredible local surfers, divers, pilots, fishermen, and families who wanted to know more about how their fish is being impacted by the growing plastic pollution problem. Along with the community, and passionate ocean conservationist Titouan Bernicot, she collected and analysed a range of fish species – checking intestinal tracts for plastic, and collecting tissue samples to analyse for the chemicals which plastic can introduce to our food chain. The results will be available later this year, but in the meantime you can start to make a difference now.
We can’t get this trash out of our oceans, but we can stop it from getting in there in the first place. Go reusable, say no to single-use plastics like bags, straws, bottles and coffee cups. Think when you shop, bulk buy and avoid plastic when you can. Tell a friend. These small changes don’t just help our oceans (and the turtles, sharks, dolphins, whales…) but they also help us and the many people who depend on fish and healthy oceans for food.