Yup – we’ve stabbed the environment in the heart yet again.
This week it was revealed that a second trash vortex has been discovered in the Pacific Ocean, three decades after the original Great Pacific Garbage Patch was found. This latest marine monstrosity is said to measure one million square kilometers – that’s bigger than the state of Texas and four times the size of the United Kingdom.
Unlike the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, this new gyre consists of tiny pieces of plastic that are smaller than grains of rice. It was chanced upon by Captain Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Research Foundation – a non-profit group dedicated to solving the issue of marine plastic pollution. Moore was also one of the first to find the original Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which he came across during a yacht race across the Pacific.
In an interview with Earth Island, Moore described his 1997 discovery: “The discovery for me was not so much “Well, I’m in a garbage patch.”
“It wasn’t like an island of trash like people keep wanting to say. It’s just that I couldn’t survey the surface of the ocean for any period of time while standing on deck without seeing some anthropogenic debris, something that was human in origin, float by. Not necessarily a large something, but just something” Moore continued.
Despite growing numbers of start-ups and conservationists devising elaborate plans to clean up our oceans, marine pollution isn’t going anywhere fast. Shocking images of seabirds entangled in plastic wrapping and turtles strangled by bags have become mainstays of newspapers’ environment pages. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2050, 99 percent of birds will have plastic in their guts due to our wasteful habits.
To raise awareness of marine debris, British graphic designer Courtney Hobbs was commissioned to create a series of vintage-style travel posters featuring three threatened areas: Tregantle Cove, Henderson Island, and the now-infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Look closely at the apparently idyllic beaches and relaxing waves to see how plastic, including tiny resin pellets called nurdles, is destroying some of nature’s dreamiest destinations.
Cornwall, the UK’s most south-westerly county, enjoys a reputation as a surfing mecca thanks to its glorious coastline. But it’s not just wave-seekers that the area attracts – 400,000 nurdles were removed from Tregantle Cove in one sole beach clean. Having been given the tragic nickname of “mermaids’ tears”, these plastic particles are less than 5mm in diameter.
This uninhabited island in the southern Pacific Ocean is one of the few places in the world that has effectively been untouched by humans, mainly due to its poor soil and lack of abundant fresh water. It had been off the radar until May 2017, when researchers from the University of Tasmania and the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds found it covered in 38 million pieces of plastic waste. In a dark twist, wildlife such as crabs have made the litter than is probably killing them their home.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Discovered in the late 1980s, this patch is located between California and Japan and is reputed to weigh seven million tonnes. However, it has been difficult to work out the actual size of the patch, since there are few items big enough to be easily visible from the deck of a boat. In this area, there is six times more plastic than plankton, meaning one of the marine animals’ main food sources is restricted and tainted.
The longevity of plastic is its greatest problem. Governments around the world are working to reduce the presence of plastics, with costs such as a charge for plastic bags, but even if we were to ban all plastic bags that would only account for 1% of all plastic film production. If, and when, we can produce biodegradable plastic, the world will be a better place. Until a solution can be found, however, it’s important to keep the plight of the oceans on the political agenda.
Designer Courtney Hobbs was commissioned by the bathroom specialists to design the vintage-inspired travel posters for three threatened areas: Tregantle Cove, Henderson Island, and the Great Pacific garbage patch.
Please visit: https://www.soakology.co.uk/blog/polluted-tourism-the-state-of-our-seas to learn more.