The sea is sick. And we don't mean in a remotely radical way. It's hurting as a consequence of us. Our plastic use, our oil use, but most of all from our ability to dump stuff in our bins and then forget about it. Out of sight, out of mind.
But some of it must have our names on it. And unless we act now to reduce our plastic footprints, the oceans will surely be doomed beyond all repair.
Need convincing? Here are 14 photos of a broken ocean that will make sea-lovers weep.
1) This baby albatross in the middle of the Pacific…
The picture is from a series by Chris Jordan, on which he has these amazing and poignant words to say:
"On Midway Atoll, a remote cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent, the detritus of our mass consumption surfaces in an astonishing place: inside the stomachs of thousands of dead baby albatrosses. The nesting chicks are fed lethal quantities of plastic by their parents, who mistake the floating trash for food as they forage over the vast polluted Pacific Ocean.
Read more at Chris Jordan
2) These plastic bags in the Med…
Turtles confuse plastic bags with jellyfish, their favourite food. Eating the bags can cause the turtles to suffocate, it can block their digestive tract, or lead to them feel full, which can then cause them to starve to death.
Read more at Medasset
3) This oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico…
Oil spills kill seabirds. Through ingestion, when they're trying to clean the oil off their feathers, and exposure to the elements, as oil makes them no longer waterproof. They also lose their buoyancy.
Read more at International Bird Rescue
4) This Cornish beach after a storm…
The awesome Surfers Against Sewage crew are celebrating their 25th birthday this year. They want to reduce marine litter on British beaches by 50 per cent by 2020 by beach cleans but also stopping waste at the source, through campaigns such as Break The Bag Habit, Think Before You Flush and No Butts On The Beach.
Read more about how at Surfers Against Sewage
5) This oil spill breaking off Santa Barbara…
A 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara is credited with kick-starting the original eco movement in the early 1970s, and this year there was another major spill off this stunning and surf-tastic stretch of California coast.
Surfrider has been organising protests against offshore drilling, and to advocate their support for clean energy. They also reminded us that unseen pipe spills happen daily sending 880,000 gallons of oil into the ocean around the US each year.
For more go to Surfrider
6) This sea litter off Nusa Lembongan, near Bali…
Nick Pumphrey took these shots last December off the island of Nusa Lembongan, which is super near to Bali. He'd gone there to shoot Manta Rays and told Take 3:
"We went to a little cove where a few more boats were huddled up with divers/snorkellers hoping to see the Mantas.
From the boat you couldn’t see the litter.... It was when I dived under for the first time that I saw it all. It was pretty shocking, an unwelcome surprise for sure. There was a lot of it, so I felt compelled to shoot it as well as the Manta Rays."
For more go to Take 3
7) These oil filters in Seattle…
Chris Jordan shot these oil filters in Seattle in 2005 as part of a series titled: Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption. Again he had these sage words to say:
"Exploring around our country's shipping ports and industrial yards, where the accumulated detritus of our consumption is exposed to view like eroded layers in the Grand Canyon, I find evidence of a slow-motion apocalypse in progress. I am appalled by these scenes, and yet also drawn into them with awe and fascination.
The pervasiveness of our consumerism holds a seductive kind of mob mentality. Collectively we are committing a vast and unsustainable act of taking, but we each are anonymous and no one is in charge or accountable for the consequences. I fear that in this process we are doing irreparable harm to our planet and to our individual spirits."
Read more at Chris Jordan
8) This remote beach in Oldshoremore Scotland…
The surf and adventure photographer Tim Nunn has been working on The Plastic Project for two years. It's a photographic survey of marine litter in the North Atlantic. As he says: "It's not until you see a McDonald's wrapper on a wild bit of Iceland beach that you can understand the problem."
The picture above shows plastic debris at Oldshoremore a super-remote beach in Scotland. Along with taking pictures in the UK, Greenland, Iceland and Russia, Tim is giving talks and running slideshows to raise awareness of this massive issue.
To help fund the mission go to The Plastic Project
9) This oil-ravaged crab in the Gulf of Mexico…
The BP oil disaster caused an alarming number of deformities in sea creatures, according to Al Jazeera. These included crabs missing claws, with holes in their shells, eyeless fish and shrimps with tumours on their heads.
10) This tube trash off the coast of Java…
This incredibly powerful image by the surf photographer Zak Noyle of the local surf champ Dede Suryana again shows how bad Indonesia's trash problem can be.
Noyle told Grind TV:
"The ocean is the thing I love, so to find something like that was so sad. You wish you could do more, but we only had one or two bags to take rubbish away, we weren't prepared.
The reactions of all the surfers [when they saw the images] were of shock and disgust at what humans could do to the beautiful ocean. No one person or country is to blame—it’s all of us."
For more on their trip go to Zak Noyle
11) This beach litter on Laysan Island, Hawaii…
Bret Wolfe, marine program coordinator for the National Wildlife Refuge System in Hawaii said: "It's a terrible irony that the plastic we discard can wash up in the most remote and ecologically sensitive places on earth. And when it's plastic, it's always there. Plastic is forever."
This is a problem that's only going to get worse unless we do something fundamentally different in the way we use plastic."
His suggestions include more recycling, proper disposal and less plastic consumption. Read more on the US Fish & Wildlife Service site
12) Another trashed Cornish surf spot…
Surfers Against Sewage run community beach cleans off the British coast throughout the year. In 2014 they collected a whopping 60 tonnes of rubbish. And this year 2 tonnes was collected at Perranporth alone.
To get involved go to Surfers Against Sewage
13) This garbage swamp off the coast of Java…
The surf photographer Zak Noyle's boat was surrounded by a mile-long garbage swamp. "The trash included soccer balls, hundreds of Nasi Goreng noodle packets and green debris," Noyle told The Australian.
This shot was taken from the same series as the barrel shot (number 10) above.
For more on their trip go to Zak Noyle
14) Another giant oil glob off California…
Surfrider has reported that the Santa Barbara spill has spread far wider than originally expected with globs found at Manhattan Beach, Ventura, Santa Monica and Venice Beach, some of the most beautiful and surf-friendly beaches in the state.
Read more about it at Surfrider
This is a great short film from National Geographic on how plastics affect marine species and in turn us…
Then there's this terrifying graphic from the Ocean Conservation Society, using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association…
It shows how long marine debris takes to decompose. 450 years for a plastic bottle, 400 years for those plastic bits that hold a six pack of beer together…kinda makes you feel embarrassed to be a human hey.