30 June 2013
It was a beautiful sunny Sunday. We all met at the Magic Island beach park by the Ala Wai harbor. This notorious harbor is the last filter point from the Ala Wai canal. The Ala Wai runs through Waikiki, accumulating all the bags bottles and other trash that is cast away by the patrons that visit Waikiki. The harbor mouth empties directly into the Waikiki Bay, where recreational activities such as surfing, diving and free diving attract thousands of people through out the week. Waikiki has historically been a place of relaxation where the “Ali’i” (Hawaiian nobles) would come. Today it is used for the same purpose by people all over the world. However, coastal development and increased tourism has impacted the health of the reef. As more and more people come to enjoy Waikiki there is more trash being generated and often times it is not disposed of. Our goal was to clean up the reef that is directly adjacent to the Ala Wai harbor mouth.
Every time I do a clean up something stands out to me. It could be a piece of trash and it’s interaction with the environment, or maybe a feeling I get through out the whole dive. This time I came across a scene that has had me thinking all last week. This video is the best way to experience what I saw http://youtu.be/PbvxzbYiTuA.
I mentioned that trash has an interaction with the environment http://youtu.be/j4y2uMzcnXY. Depending on the nature of the trash, and the currents and the topography, the ocean will find a place for it. I think this is important when addressing the impacts of marine debris. We tend to focus on the things we can see. For instance the great garbage patch. Hundreds of miles of floating garbage. But what could be even more important, is the trash we can’t see. The small floating pieces that are easily filtered or eaten by animals that mistake it for food. In this paper it discusses how micro plastics are being filtered by oysters, a largely harvested species “‘Startling’ pollutant fo… – The Post and Courier”
My other thought when I saw this inexpressive collection of bottles was each of these easily could have been responsibly disposed of. The first and most obvious way to keep a plastic bottle from turning into marine debris is to refuse to use them. Use a nalgene or kleen canteen. You can also be cautious when purchasing items and not purchase ones that come in plastic bottles like juice or water. Another way to prevent plastic bottles from entering the ocean is to make sure you dispose of them. Find a recycling can, or take them home and recycle them. Finally we have to take responsibility for other peoples trash. If you find plastic bottles, or bags on the ground, don’t walk by and ignore them, pick them up. The more people begin to take responsibility for impacts that effect us all, the better our communities around the world will become. The trash that they find in the Pacific Garbage Patch doesn’t belong to anyone, we can’t point fingers, except to ourselves. But it’s not easy to go there and do a clean up dive. The trash that we find on the reefs here don’t belong to any one either, but we can see the impacts on the reef, and we can do something about it in our daily lives. As an individual, try to decrease your contribution to the amount of plastic thrown away. To do this, be prudent when shopping and recognize and avoid products made with plastic or have excess packaging. Each one of us makes a contribution, how much of your contribution is garbage?