This is a moan, but it’s more of awareness. An awareness that we landlubbers rarely see.
Here’s a glimpse.
Next time you buy a bottle of water, remember the baby albatross
Like finding rubbish on Everest, when I crossed the Atlantic I was dismayed to see so much plastic – and that kills seabirds
The picture of the baby albatross that starved to death after being fed nutritionally useless bits of plastic by its parents shows just what happens when we treat the world’s oceans as a handy system of waste disposal. A few years ago, I got a do-this-before-you-die chance to sail across the Atlantic, among the best things I’ve ever done.
One startling discovery was that the sea is actually a kind of desert. For most of the trip, we rarely saw a bird, we caught no fish, and the only living things apart from us were the Portuguese man-of-wars, evil-looking jelly fish that drifted by in ominous numbers on calm days. But, like discovering rubbish on Everest, there was always plastic. Big bits – weather buoys that had come adrift, fuel containers and suchlike – and small bits, and even smaller bits. There are 269,000 tonnes of these fragments, according to the newest estimate. They come mainly from single-use plastic containers like water bottles, but even so-called biodegradable plastic only degrades quickly in commercial composting systems.
The particles, many of them minute, enter the food chain and do terrible damage to all forms of life. And because they are not only on the surface but also suspended deep beneath, trying to remove them risks doing more environmental harm. So next time you buy bottled water, remember the baby albatross.