Everybody loves the ocean. It’s a part of us and it’s the origin of life.
Have you ever thought about how important the oceans are for the global climate, and about the biodiversity that lives under your Surfboard? And what’s even more important, do you know about the damage that waste creates, when it is left at the beach or thrown in the sea?
The oceans cover more than 71% of the surface of the earth. That’s why we call it the blue planet. Water is life. Without water the earth would be an inhospitable place without any oxygen, species or life. The composition of the human being, in relation to it´s trace elements is identical to the composition of the trace elements of the ocean.
The sea is not only vital for us human beings, but also for the vast numbers of species that live in our waters. In the Great Barrier Reef there are living more diverse types of species than anywhere else in the world. Marine turtles and different whale species – many of these animals are endangered. Due to the warming of the oceans, the Great Barrier Reef itself is endangered and it’s calculated that the reef is going to be destroyed in the next 50 years. Probably most of us will not be here to witness this, but do we really want to destroy this awesome structure of nature? Don’t we think about our descendants? What will happen to the earth when whole eco systems are going to be destroyed?
There is already a lot of garbage swimming around in the ocean. And because of its chemical composition, some of it will be there for 450 years. For thousands of years people have thrown their waste into the sea. As long as these materials find their way in the ecosystem by the help of UV- light or bacteria, there is no problem. However, nowadays the waste is especially long-lasting. More than 120 million tons of plastic are produced every year. According to studies by Greenpeace there are around 20.000 pieces of plastic on every square kilometer in the oceans.
Because of its meteorological idiosyncrasies there is more garbage in some areas of the oceans. A high-pressure area, between the Hawaiian Islands and North America causes a vortex in the sea. Garbage which once gets into this vortex will swim it´s circuits for the next 15 years. This leads to a garbage vortex which is almost as big as Central Europe. Every piece of garbage which is thrown into the North Pacific, sooner or later will be in this vortex.
Plastic waste also goes into our food chain. Toxic substances attach to the plastic waste, which is accidently eaten by animals. Bigger animals eat the smaller ones. We are at the end of the chain and get the biggest concentration of the toxins.
It can’t be our aim to poison ourselves, and that we destroy what we love. There are bins everywhere, just a short distance to recycle what we use.
The garbage in the sea is an additional danger for all the marine animals. They choke, drown, starve, die of thirst and perish painfully in the items we throw away. Many birds feed plastic to their kids because they can’t distinguish it from their nutrition. 97% of the fulmars from the German-Sea have got plastic in their stomachs. It’s impossible for them so release the plastic, so it fills their stomachs and the birds starve painfully. Marine turtles get trapped in ropes and plastic nets, whales and dolphins die and the whole ecosystem comes to grief. The garbage in the oceans has increased dramatically and the consequences are immense.
What can we do?
Everybody can help to protect our environment. As surfers we use the ocean for our pleasure. So we should bring respect to this environment. Conservation areas are no playgrounds and should be respected.
Avoid creating rubbish and take garbage collection bags to the beach. Pick up the pieces of plastic and rubbish and encourage other people at the beach to act with care. In fact cigarette butts are NOT biodegradable and the acetate (plastic) filters can take up to 80 years to decompose. Aluminum (cans) don’t even decompose and contaminate the water effecting all life, animals and humans. Floating plastic waste, can survive for thousands of years in water and take thousands of years to decompose.
Don’t forget we have got just one planet.
Protect your surf environment.