The scourge of plastic pollution has, at long last, become a major talking point around the world. More of us are ditching disposable plastic cups, straws, bags and more in favour of reusable alternatives, as well as flagging examples of pointless packaging on social media and making a concerted effort to reduce our consumption.
Now, a video of a British diver swimming through reams of plastic and other food wrappers off the coast of Bali, Indonesia, has gone viral and sparked further conversation around ocean pollution. Like the photo of a lobster with a Pepsi 'tattoo' that surfaced in November, it's truly horrifying.
In the short video, filmed by Rich Horner at the dive site Manta Point and posted his social media accounts, you can see an abundance of yellowing food wrappers, cups, sachets and netting taking centre stage – but barely any tropical fish.
"The ocean currents brought us in a lovely gift of a slick of jellyfish, plankton, leaves, branches, fronds, sticks, etc.... Oh, and some plastic," Horner wrote in a Facebook post accompanying the video on 3rd March. "Some plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic cups, plastic sheets, plastic buckets, plastic sachets, plastic straws, plastic baskets, plastic bags, more plastic bags, plastic, plastic, so much plastic!"
He continued: "Surprise, surprise, there weren't many Mantas there at the cleaning station today... They mostly decided not to bother."
Horner said it was unclear whether the rubbish had come from Bali or elsewhere. It may have travelled as far as hundreds or even thousands of kilometres, "from anywhere in Indonesia, or north from The Philippines, Malaysia, and beyond," he added.
While Horner said divers who had visited the resort since reported seeing no rubbish at all, he pointed out that the plastic would be continuing its journey into the Indian Ocean, "to slowly break up into smaller and smaller pieces, into microplastics. But not going away."
These microplastics then become coated in algae, which attracts fish, turtles and other creatures as food and end up entering the food chain, "along with the toxins they contain and have absorbed," and are eventually eaten by humans, Horner explained. If that's not food for thought, we don't know what is.
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