Search crews scouring the ocean for signs of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have come across massive amounts of garbage, so called ‘garbage patches’. A recent article from National Geographic sheds light on the effect plastics and other debris has on the health of our oceans.
In the article, scientist Kathleen Dohan explains the drastic effect of the circulating debris within the oceans in the span of ten years. That being said, the trash must end up somewhere and according to Dohan, all the garbage thrown resituates itself in what are called garbage patches, or in other words, underwater landfills. “The highest concentration of plastics can be found in the North Atlantic garbage patch, which receives most of its content from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe.”
Furthermore, according to the NOAA’s National Ocean Service, “eighty percent of pollution to the marine environment comes from the land.” The main source of trash also happens to be plastic. In fact it makes up 90% of most garbage patches. Not only are these patches ruining the clear, pristine waters of earth, but they also pose a serious risk to marine life. There have already been countless documented cases of birds and other wildlife dying as a result of eating garbage.
Despite the sad state of our oceans, there is still hope. In Canada, Nature Canada and our provincial and federal partners have teamed up to manage and oversee the NatureCaretakers program. This program offers a way for volunteers to take a leadership role in protecting the 600+ Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) across Canada — many of which include marine areas. Another initiative, NatureVoice, has helped to strengthen national marine conservation laws and develop many marine conservation areas. Change doesn’t usually happen in a day’s time. It takes a sustained effort to effect real change.
Together, we can be a voice for nature and make that real impact.