Ben Lecomte: The Longest Swim – 5,500 Miles of Science and Sustainability.

Hey Sentinels! I hope you all had an incredible summer! For my part, although it’s been great getting away for a while, it’s also a relief to be back to cooler weather! It’s been a hot one in the Mexican coastline.

During this period, I came upon a couple of amazing stories that I would like to share with you.

The first one below is about an astonishing expedition which is currently taking place just as you are reading this article.

The other one I will publish next week and deals with some insights I learned during my last surf trip to Puerto Escondido.

So, let’s get right to it!

The mission continues…

For the better part of this year, I have been dedicating a fair amount of time writing about ocean conservancy and disposable plastic awareness. This is an essential topic which is slowly gaining traction worldwide.

From heroes like Sian Sikes to ocean conservation organizations, such as Sea Shepherd and Surfrider foundation, environmental awareness and active involvement is key for our ocean’s survival.

My attention finds itself captivated once again by yet another extraordinary expedition: The Longest Swim.

This adventure is nothing short of mind-blowing. It involves an extraordinary individual and his desire to not only break physical and mental boundaries but also bring scientific fact about our oceans precarious condition: The Longest Swim’s main protagonist is Benoit “Ben” Lecomte.

Ben is attempting to swim across the Pacific Ocean in 180 days….let me write that one again folks…as you are reading this, Ben Lecomte is swimming, right now, across the Pacific Ocean, having started in Choshi, Japan and ending in San Francisco. That’s a distance of 5,500 miles, swimming an average o 8 hours every day!

Ben has trained for the last 6 years for this expedition, having previously swum successfully across the Atlantic Ocean in 1998.

“A team of researchers from 13 scientific institutions including NASA and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will conduct studies on 8 different subjects during The Swim. From plastic pollution to space exploration, this adventure will be a unique opportunity to collect data and learn more about the oceans and the human body in extreme conditions.”

Lecomte is not of this planet!

At the core, The Swim is all about scientific discovery…

Besides lending his mind and body for scientific studies focusing in human super endurance, the expedition has also other very clear objectives which will be at the top of the expedition’s priority list:

How the Fukushima nuclear disaster has affected the ocean.
The health of Phytoplankton.
The Gravity Effect (NASA).
Cardiovascular health.
Microplastic and ocean health.

Other challenges he will be facing will be low water temperatures, special nutrition needs, solitude, swimming through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (extending for a colossal 1,000 miles!), and ocean wildlife (including sharks…not the main concern when compared to swimming through swarms of jellyfish).

The supporting cast…

Ben has been joined by his faithful support crew of 6, traveling side by side during his swim aboard the “Discoverer”, a sturdy,  67 ft (20 m) steel monohull sailing boat Challenge 67. “Disco” as She is affectionately called by all the crew, was designed to take part in the legendary Global Challenge round-the-world race.

Disco’s deck and the main structure are in steel. This material is a favorite maritime construction due to its durability and sturdiness. The Pacific has some of the roughest weather patterns in the planet. Discoverer was designed to face impacts and challenging weather conditions, a given the crew knows they will have to endure at some point during their crossing.

And why a sailboat?

According to Ben and Discoverer’s skipper, Scotty:

“…a sailboat is an ideal choice since it will require for very slow sailing along Ben’s 6-month journey. Relying on an engine during this expedition, with no stop-overs whatsoever, was definitely not the way to go”.

So, wind power is the order of the day for Discoverer’s Seeker support crew. Other than Ben and the ocean, the Discoverer is the third main protagonist of this incredible story.

The Seeker support team and Discoverer

Preparation of mind and body…

Besides choosing the ideal transport for the crossing, Ben has also prepared himself by swimming countless hours in open waters, and of no less importance, learning and sharpening his mind by using visualization and disassociation techniques. Visualization is pretty straightforward to understand, as many of us who have practiced some extreme sport know,  having used visualization at some time or another, when facing challenging conditions out in the water.

Dissasociation, however, is entirely a different matter.

In an interview with AFP news, Ben explains:

“The mental part is much more important than the physical. You have to make sure you always think about something positive. When you don’t have anything to occupy your mind it goes into kind of a spiral, and that’s when trouble starts”.

Challenges and adversity the order of the day…

Through such distances and uncertain environments, far away as one could possibly imagine from any civilization, adversity is almost a daily affair.

It takes extremely clear objectives and clarity of purpose to get you through those inevitable rough patches, as Ben retells his experience during a difficult day:

“This morning the wind and waves were coming from the north and were stronger than yesterday. We still had to progress toward the north and this was going to be a challenging day.

Maria was back in the kayak. She communicated a few times with the crew on the VHF to verify that we were going in the right direction. Each time we took a break to feed me we felt we were pushed back from where we came from. Maria was drifting in the opposite direction, the wind and waves dragged her much faster than me.

She was trying her hardest to keep the pace but she was paddling slower than I was swimming. After a few hours, I knew I wouldn’t be able to swim for a full 8 hours at that pace because it was too slow and I couldn’t generate enough heat to stay warm.

At midday, we had planned to have Paul trade place with Maria. At that time Seeker wasn’t close to us, I could only see the top of the sails at the horizon. Maria gave them our position and corrected it a few times as we were drifting fast. After 45 minutes Seeker finally reached us but by that time I had waited too long in the water and was cold, I decided to get back on the sailboat and stop swimming for the day.
Even in those challenging conditions, Maria managed to collect a big 5 gallons clear plastic bottle…”.

Ben’s final thoughts…

And so what’s next for our lone hero’s awe-inspiring adventure? As I publish this post, it is August 29…Ben and Disco’s crew are located here, approximately 750 miles east of Choshi, Japan.

They have seen their share of natural wonders out in the deep sea, as well as constant reminders of our indiscriminate use of plastic waste.

Ben finishes this article, adding a final thought that we should all take to heart:

“What do I stand for? I am not against plastic, I am for a responsible way to use plastic, one that doesn’t pass on any liability down to the next generation. Like many people, I am struggling with how I can reduce my use and limit my impact. My bad habits are still entrenched in my daily life and like any bad habits I find it difficult to change them. I have a tendency to resist change and feel more comfortable sticking with the status quo.

I know how to push my physical and mental limits and how to get out of my comfort zone but I found it very challenging to stop my relationship with plastic, stop following the easy path and more convenient way when using plastic.

For the past few years, I have made some changes in my life to reduce my use of plastic and try to single-use plastic, but I have more to do. I am very fortunate to see firsthand how pervasive plastic is and how vast is the problem we have created. This is a very strong motivating force for me to make more changes.

I am very fortunate to be where I am and foster a unique relationship with the ocean. This has a profound impact on me, it is reshaping me as a person and redefining my role as a human being; I feel I have a responsibility to give a voice to the ocean.

Thank you to all you for following and supporting us. You inspire me to be a better steward of the ocean and I appreciate any feedback that would help me achieve it”.

Conclusion…

Ben’s commitment and candor are truly inspiring.

Like Sian Sykes, whom I have also mentioned in past articles, and her incredible marine conservation awareness odyssey in Wales, Ben has taken his interest and that of other ocean conservation organizations to a whole different level.

This is how involved we must be…not swimming a whole ocean, no. That’s for super-men and women like Ben and his crew.

But we can also be heroes, unassuming and perhaps a bit humble, in our daily efforts, but, together, we can make a HUGE difference.

I hope you liked Ben’s continuing odyssey in the Pacific. He is truly one of a kind, as are we all, in our battle to protect our fragile planet. Please share this article with your friends and loved ones.

They must know about Ben and what he is trying to accomplish.

Thanks again for reading and talk soon!

9 ocean conservation organizations that defend our planet.

Hey Sentinels! I hope you are having an amazing week, the first of many more to come of fun and sun!

Summer’s just started and I hope everyone is enjoying a well-deserved rest, surfing your dream beach break, point, reef (or ranch!). It’s only fair that we unwind after living through the harshest months of winter.

And believe me, I know how bad that can get. I lived a few weeks in Toronto during the month of February and that was not fun.

So, as you paddle out on your board, waiting for the next set to roll in, surrounded by glassy, emerald green or turquoise waters, and letting your body have its fill of  friendly, warm summer days (no wetsuits please!), take a look around you and breathe in the wonders that Mother Nature has blessed us with.

Now more than ever, it is so important that we take the time to do this.

And as our planet gets more populated by the day, facing awesome environmental challenges that threaten our very existence, know that out there, beyond the horizon, there are efforts being made by environmental and ocean conservancy heroes that have taken the mission of being a Sentinel to a completely different level.

There are many environmental efforts being made around our planet, but the following ocean conservation organizations have set the standard for ocean conservancy and protection of our planet’s fragile biodiversity.

Here’s a quick look at each organization (if you wish to know more about any of them, click on the organization’s name below and you will be directed to their website). They all have volunteer programs if you wish to participate in their ongoing efforts.

Sea Shepherd.

Officially known as Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, this organization, established in 1977, is a great example of innovative, direct-action tactics held in high seas. Sea Shepherd operates all over the world, and some of the best known environmental operatives have come from this no-nonsense, scientific OCO, among them the tainting of 2,000 baby seals in the Arctic to prevent poachers and pelters from killing them for profit.

Sea Shepherd is committed to the preservation, protection, and balance of the biodiversity found in our planet’s oceans and their mission is “…to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species”.

Surfrider Foundation.

Known for their well researched and organized campaigns, as well as championing policy and fighting legal battles for coasts around the world, Surfrider Foundation is committed to awareness of issues that threaten our planet’s oceans. Their 50 member staff work tirelessly to raise money to support their powerful activist network. Surfrider Foundation’s approach is based on the following strong tenet:

“We ensure beaches are accessible, keep our water clean, protect our ocean, preserve our coasts and keep plastic from polluting our waterways. The Surfrider Foundation has a proven model for success—a playbook and a team—that transforms passion into protection”.

Oceanic Preservation Society.

Through focused efforts using social media, film, photography and joint collaborations, OPS are able to bring awareness of “complex, global environmental issues”. Some of their exemplary projects are:

• Racing Extinction – The Biggest Story in the World
• Projecting Change – Shining a Light on Endangered Species
• The Cove – Taiji, Japan: A Little Town With a Really Big Secret
• A Covert Mission

International Marine Mammal Project.

IMMP is committed to the making the oceans safe for whales, dolphins and marine mammals around the world. 

One of their most famous rescues involved the release of Keiko, the orca whale that inspired the movie, Free Willy.

Additionally, IMMP is responsible for bringing the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji island in Japan to the of world stage throughout their Academy Award-winning movie The Cove.

It is reassuring to know that they are also involved in banning aquarium and circus owners from utilizing marine mammals for entertainment purposes.

American Cetacean Society.

Founded in 1967, the American Cetacean Society (ACS) is the first whale, dolphin and porpoise conservation organization in the world. Their mission is to bring education, relevant, current research and critical conservation topics about cetaceans and their environments.

They have chapters in San Diego, Seattle, Monterrey, Orange County, San Francisco and Los Angeles. ACS also provides volunteer programs and organize science projects involving cetacean education.

They are the definitive source of information for cetacean research and conservation.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

Imagine a world where dolphins and whales are safe and free. This is WDC’s vision. They are leaders in charity projects involving protection of whales and dolphins around the world.

WDC’s mission is:

“…to amaze people with the wonder of whales and dolphins and inspire global action to protect them”.

Ocean Conservancy.

There are approximately 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean.  269,000 tons of this waste floats on the surface. What’s even worse: there are about four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer that contaminate the oceans at depths.

Ocean Conservancy works with international organizations that are committed to the reduction of plastics in our oceans. OC is a volunteer force currently has over 600,000 members.

This organization bases their efforts in strong science, clear policies and involved associates. Ocean Conservancy is well aware that their efforts will yield results in the long term.

And that’s just fine by them.

Their focus is on solutions that are long-lasting and transformational, advocating for “healthy oceans, abundant wildlife and thriving coastal communities”.

One of their major global events is the International Coastal Cleanup, an ongoing project that they have been actively organizing and doing for more than three decades.

The Institute for Ocean Conservation Science.

The IOCS is headed by Executive Director Ellen K. Pikitch, Ph.D., an acclaimed marine fisheries scientist. Dr. Pikitch sets the scientific tone and moderation for IOCS’s efforts in advancing ocean conservation through science.

Her organization is also part of the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

These accolades are certainly worth noting, but it is Dr. Pikitch’s approach to world-class scientific research that has increased awareness of grave threats to the world’s oceans and the marine wildlife that inhabits them.

Her heam provides the foundation for smarter ocean policies, always aiming for new parameters for responsible conservation of marine and ocean biodiversity, always based on strong scientific fact.

Oceana.

Oceana is an organization whose sole focus is on oceans.

Until recently (1999), less than 0.5 percent of all resources spent by US environmental non-profit organizations went to ocean conservation. Up to that time, there had never existed an organization that focused their efforts exclusively on the protection and restoration of oceans on a global scale.

Fortunately, that all changed in 2001 when Oceana was created. This organization was made up of four foundations deeply committed to this cause:

  • The Pew Charitable Trusts.
  • Oak Foundation.
  • Marisla Foundation
  • The Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Oceana’s international manifest is dedicated to “achieving measurable change by conducting specific, science-based campaigns with fixed deadlines and articulated goals”.

To date, Oceana has nearly 200 victories under their belt and have been successful at protecting 3.5 million square miles of ocean.  Oceana also made The Ocean Law Project part of its legal structure in 2001, followed by a joint venture with the American Oceans Campaign, lead by actor/environmentalist Ted Danson.

The objective of the merger was to increase the range and effectiveness of Oceana’s mission to protect and restore our planet’s oceans.

Blue Ocean Society.

Founded by whale watch naturalists Jen Kennedy and Dianna Schulte, Blue Ocean Society was started in 2001 and became a non-profit organization in 2002.

Constrained by the lack of information not available to the general public, Jen and Dianna decided to start their own database, working hard to translate their on-water research into comprehensive programs for schools and people who were interested in whale conservation, but who weren’t scientists and who could do without all the scientific jargon.

ORCA (Ocean Research Conservation Association, Inc.)

ORCA’s environmental efforts are unique in that they are responding to improving the quality of water which marine mammals and other wildlife need for their existence.

ORCA’S mission is based on the combination of three foundational pillars:

  • Innovative technology
  • Applied science
  • Community involvement

Their efforts have led the way in protection and conservation of coasts, estuaries, and oceans, safeguarding these habitats for future generations.

Inspiration through positive action…

So there you have it! Nine ocean conservation organizations that truly walk the walk. Their combined efforts have made a difference in preserving and bringing global awareness to our embattled marine mammals all over the world.

Ever thought of volunteering for a good cause?

Consider any of these organizations. They are always ready to receive Sentinels into their ranks. We are the best line of defense for the indiscriminate onslaught our planet is currently going through (remember… 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean, and counting).

Thank you so much for reading my article. I really hope you found it useful and informative. Please leave your comments below if you have any ideas or thoughts you would like to share with me below.

And if you know of someone who may benefit from this information, please share it with them.

Keep having an incredible summer and enjoy our beautiful blue planet! Talk soon!

 

Three SUP paddle board activities you have got to try!

Landlocked but inspired…

Hey Sentinels!

Greetings again from beautiful, land-locked San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, in Mexico!

So here I remain still and to be honest, I’m loving it!

Even though the nearest beach is well over 1,000 kilometers away on either side, my time here, away from the water, has provided the motivation and inspiration I needed to become even more involved in any and all action water sports activities that come my way.

If you have been reading some of my posts lately, you probably have noticed a pattern developing. My articles have recently centered around self-development skills and big wave riding and how, when put together, can create deep impactful transformation.

But it is by no means the only way.

SUP paddle boarding…for real!

I’m an advocate of big wave riding because I simply freakin’ love it! And I hope you have come to learn and love a bit about it too.

However, SUP boarding is also catching on as one of the most transformational water sports activities in the world. And though there are many ways you can practice this fun sport, following are the three most popular SUP paddle board activities for you to try:

  • SUP Surfing
  • SUP Yoga
  • SUP Trekking

SUP surfing is pretty self-explanatory and the link here should give you plenty of history and interesting facts about its origins and variations.

SUP Yoga, well, suffice to say that Yoga on its own is an incredibly challenging and meditational experience, which also can result in amazing physical benefits: flexibility, balance and lean, strong muscles when practiced regularly. Now, practice all that on a moving surfboard and you get the idea why so many yoga enthusiasts are making this their go-to class over other Yoga styles.

I have no ocean where I live.

I also have no patience or interest in doing Eagle or Downward-Facing Dog on land, much less on a wobbly surfboard.

Would I try it sometime down the line? Maybe. For now, though, if I were to give SUP boarding a try, it would be for exploring lakes and river ways…

And that’s where Sian Sykes comes in.

If you have never heard of Sian (pronounced “Shan”), it’s ok. I had never heard of her or her incredible journey until about a week ago. I was looking for inspiration for my next article. So far, most of my articles have been about surfing. But lately, I had ignored ocean conservancy,  a medular topic of Surfsentinel.

It’s a bit embarrassing, really, since my tagline announces my site as “Surfsentinel is an advocate for ocean conservancy”. It sort of looks cool there, but the truth is I’ve only published a couple of articles about ocean conservancy: this very one and another article about plastic waste. Pretty lame production, right? I know.

Until now.

As I began to do my research for my last post on single-use disposable plastics, I came uppon Sian’s SUP board adventure. It caught my imagination so definitively, I shared her epic journey on Twitter the very moment I finished reading about it.

Right, so here it is.

Sian Skyes is from Anglesey, Wales. She is professional SUP boarding instructor. She owns a business (pyschedpaddleboarding.com) teaching others how to get about on the boards and offering water safaris around the island. She is also a conservationist campaigner.

Committing to Mother Earth…

Sian decided to circumnavigate Wales through its long and winding river systems and canals, alone, using only her outdoors expertise and SUP board as a means of transport. The route she took was along the Welsh border. She eventually ended up on the Severn Estuary, where she followed the coast, finally reaching her home, back in Anglesey.

This expedition was a 1000 km journey around wales, and it took two months. That alone could stand as an incredible adventure.

But here is the really amazing part:

Along the way, Sian collected single-use disposable plastic to dispose of when she arrived in towns along the riverside, sharing her story with the inhabitants, promoting plastic waste reduction and environmental awareness.

Now THAT is having absolute clarity and commitment to one’s mission.

Her historical navigation was completely weather dependent. And all along, her mission remained unshaken: pick up as much plastic as possible and bring marine litter reduction and environmental awareness to anyone who would listen.

When asked during a BBC interview as to what she finds so magical about Stand Up Paddleboarding, this is what she expressed enthusiastically:

“You have a bird’s-eye view. You see jellyfish float past you, fish leaping out of the water, porpoise darting about, birds flying overhead and inquisitive seals can come up to you”

“It’s a wonderful way to reconnect with nature, and to go on a journey and explore areas you would never see on foot.”

But it’s not all about the natural beauty. She goes on to add:

“I see a lot of marine litter washed up on our beaches. It is a massive problem – and we need to make a change”.

“I’m going to highlight that on my trip, from showing from inland out to the sea – plastic pollution.”

To further raise awareness about single-use plastic disposal, Sian also used non-disposable plastic herself. Her food and nutrition needs were another challenge she had to face since she is vegan. Her menu consisted mainly of quinoa and dehydrated vegetables.

As if that was not enough, Sian will also had to deal with the following tricky spots along the way:

  • Tidal races along the Welsh coastline.
  • Busy shipping channels, harbors.
  • The second fastest flow in the world.
  • Wild camping.
  • Being totally self-reliant.
…sugar and spice and everything nice.

It blows my mind every time whenever women’s strength and resilience are put into question by clodding misogynists.

Sian Sykes is one of many women who is setting the record straight.

Her commitment, courage, and passion for our planet’s health, both in and out of the water, is undeniable and universal.

Sian’s views on marine and environmental conservancy are inspirational and, hopefully, far-reaching. Her actions truly speak louder than words.

Has anyone inspired you lately to take environmental action of any kind? How about recycling, composting, single-use plastic disposal?

Can you think in ways you can impact your awareness towards marine life and ocean conservancy, perhaps not to the extent that Sian Sykes has demonstrated to the world, but maybe, on a smaller, more personal level?

What would that be?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. I would love to read your ideas and share them with other Sentinels around the world. We can always learn and share new ways to protect our fragile planet.

Thanks for reading and talk soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plastic waste reduction…are we too late?

Abundance…but at what price?

High season is nearly over!

Cancun and the Riviera Maya go through this period every year and without fail (thankfully for all of us making a living here), tourists from all over the world come to visit our incredible beaches and vast vacation offer.

It’s a time of abundance and work. Unfortunately, it also comes at a price. Even though plastic waste reduction has lately become more relevant, we are still a long way from overcoming this terrible epidemic. Here’s what I mean…

A few days ago, I finally returned to the beach which my wife and I love very much. It is located 10 minutes from our home. It was our day off so we decided to go early with our dogs and later on for breakfast at a small local restaurant we like very much.

Having lived in the area for nearly 20 years now, we knew that with our walk, would come the notorious appearance of trash washed up on shore. This has just been so for the amount of time living here.

This season, however, was starkly different.

The number of plastic objects washed up on shore was more than we had ever found before.

Due to our current jobs, we don’t get out to the beach as much as we should. We normally take “stock” on just how much trash and refuse washes up on our beaches.

Having made inquiries to the local lifeguarding staff and the beach clean-up crew, they confirmed that the amount of trash washed up during this 2018 season was alarmingly high.

They even showed us what they had recollected that morning.

Among the plastic bottles and bags and other refuse in general, 2 rubber duckies and one ice hockey glove…seriously? The duckies we could understand (well, sort of)…but the ice hockey glove??

I decided to investigate a bit further as to how an ice hockey glove ended on our favorite beach.

And what I found out was shocking.

Hard facts to consider…

More than 300 million tons of plastic are produced around the world each year.

Only 10% of that is being recycled!

Billions of plastic bottles and trillions (that’s with a “t”) of plastic bags end up creating literal mountains of plastic waste found in our planet’s largest landfills.

According to a report from the Worldwatch Institute, an independent research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental concerns, many of these bottles and bags (10 to 20 million tons, find their way into our world’s oceans.

More alarming facts…

50 billion plastic water bottles are produced in the US alone every year. If you were to stack these bottles end to end, they would stretch the distance from the earth to the moon more than 26 times or wrap around the earth more than 250 times!

And nothing seems to be slowing down this plastic binge.

The North Atlantic Gyre…one of five…

So how do 3.5 million tons of garbage (80% being plastic) end up floating lazily around our world’s oceans and where does it all end up eventually?

Have a look at this amazing GIF taken from the scientific website plasticadrift.org.

Consider one of the locations of this natural occurrence: the Atlantic Ocean.

Shipping lanes traverse these vast waters and everything, from food to plastic bottles, wrappings, bags, and all kinds of refuse, fall into these waters.

Below you can see the main shipping lanes of our planet. Pay special attention to the Atlantic shipping lanes. It’s no wonder our oceans are chocking in plastic pollution!

Now imagine a large cargo ship losing its containers to a storm (not a frequent incident, thank Goodness, but it does happen).

All those items, including rubber duckies (and hockey gloves), are lost in the storm and eventually end up in the vast North Atlantic Gyre. That’s a bit on the extreme side. It is the day to day disposal of plastics and their by-products that is simply unsustainable any more!

There they may remain for years (some gyres complete a rotation every 6.5 years!) until they reach the outer bands of the gyre, where they are snatched by other oceanic currents and eventually end up washed up on many of our world’s beaches.

Such was the case with the refuse we were shown, having washed up somewhere from the deep Atlantic on to our local beach, 10 minutes away from our home.

Ravenous hunger for plastics results in graver consequences…

The unfortunate fact is that our endless hunger for plastics is not exclusive to our oceans. The extent of the damage we are causing goes well beyond that.

At the microscopic level, the use of cosmetics and cleaning products have also had an adverse effect. These products are made up of micro-plastics (tiny beads of plastic which are added to improve their abrasiveness). These micro-plastics end up being flushed down drains.

They are so small that modern sewage systems are unable to remove them from drain tubing. Instead, they flow out and end up in shallow waters, mostly on the surface, where they collect contaminants which affect the planktonic food chain.

According to another report from Worldwatch Institute (2015):

“Approximately 10 to 20 million tons (9.1 to 18.1 million metric tons [mt]) of plastic ends up in the oceans each year. A recent study conservatively estimated that 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing a total of 268,940 tons (243,978 mt) are currently floating in the world’s oceans. This plastic debris results in an estimated $13 billion a year in losses from damage to marine ecosystems, including financial losses to fisheries and tourism, as well as time spent cleaning beaches.”

And most recently, Kathleen Rogers, the Earth Day Network’s President has this to say about plastic pollution (2018):

“From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival”.

As if that were not enough, plastics threaten our ocean’s wildlife, such as seabirds, sea lions, whales, fish, and dolphins, through entanglement in plastic matter such as netting, ropes, and packaging materials.

Also, microparticles and microbes adhere to floating debris which can enter local ecosystems, damaging wildlife in non-native regions.

So what can we do?…really.

For starters, restrain the unnecessary use of plastic bags and increase our efforts at recyclingreally.

Easier said than done. I myself have tried to commit to a serious recycling effort, but have fallen short. After this article, however, I now realize that there is no turning back.

The numbers are staggering and it’s not getting better any time soon.

We must commit, in heart, mind, and soul, to reduce our plastic footprint and do all we can to acquire a recycling culture, not as a fad or trend, but as a lifestyle.

Do you have a recycling program where you live? More importantly, are you actively finding ways to be informed and aware of how to minimize the indiscriminate use of plastic products? What strategies have you put in place and are they working?

 

I hope you have found this article useful. It is so important that we become accountable and involved in protecting our planet, both in and out of the water, from plastic pollution.

What do you think? Are we still in time?

I’m an optimist.

We are gradually coming to terms with the consequences of our actions. It’s finally happening.

Better late than ever, I guess.

Please leave your comments below. I will be happy to follow up and share them with our Sentinel community around the world.

Thank you for reading and talk soon!