Plastic marine debris adversely affects at least 267 species globally, including 86% of sea turtles, 44% of seabirds and 43% of marine mammals.
Sea turtles readily consume plastic bags because they look so much like jellyfish. And seabirds are prone to ingesting microplastic debris that floats. The ingestion of plastic particles can lead to impairment of feeding due to blockage of the digestive system, decreased mobility, reduction of reproductive capacity, infection, suffocation and starvation.
Enter the plastic hunters of the Cornish Coast. Steve Green and Monika Hertlova have steered their 112-year-old boat into remote and rocky areas of England’s southwest corner to clear it of plastic waste, hauling in more than 44,000 pounds of debris in the past three years.
Green told the New York Times that he was caught in a wind storm and washed up on one of the coastline’s archipelago islands that was filled with dying seabirds and dolphins who were affected by pollution from goods and wreckage of boats. Clean Ocean Sailing was born from that experience and now he and Hertlova are joined by other activists who help clear the plastics out.
A report by the World Economics Forum estimates that the equivalent of a full garbage truck of plastic streams into the oceans every minute.
Clean Ocean Sailing volunteer Simon Myers said in the Times story that helping to clear the plastics gave him a new perspective on water pollution, climate change and overconsumption.
“We know the problem is everywhere,” he told the Times. “It’s happening on our doorstep. It’s coming home to roost.”
Instead of feeling overwhelmed, this group of volunteers hopped into action to save the marine animals on their coastline and that’s certainly something to cheer about.
To find out how you can help read our Action Line story on how you can become a watchdog of local waterways here.