Recently an underwater photographer stumbled across a sight that horrified and “devastated” her — a huge area of plastic waste several miles wide floating off the coast of what used to be hers’ pristine island home.
She stumbled across the “Great Caribbean Garbage Patch” about 15 miles from the tiny 12-mile-long island of Roatan, which has often been described as resembling “paradise.”
“We were on a dive trip to a set of islands that don’t quite break the ocean surface,” Caroline Power said when she spoke to The Telegraph.
”They are one of the most pristine dive sites in this part of the Caribbean.”
The dive team passed through floating garbage for “nearly five miles,” said Power, who’s dedicated her career to increasing awareness of the “plastic problem.”
“Everywhere we looked, plastic bags of all shapes and sizes: chip bags, ziplocks, grocery, trash, snack bags, other packaging. Some were whole and the rest were just pieces.”
During their trip, her team reached a denser area “about two miles wide that had multiple trash lines that stretched from horizon to horizon:”
“There was also a seemingly infinite number of plastic forks, spoons, drink bottles, and plates. There were broken soccer balls, toothbrushes, a tv, and so many shoes and flip flops,” she explained.
According to the Blue Planet Society, a non-profit organization working to end the exploitation of the ocean, the garbage presumably came from the Motagua River in Guatemala, reaching the sea during heavy rains.
They explained the images as “unbelievable:”
“We see a lot of shocking images of environmental destruction. This is right up there with the worst.”
“There is a lack of infrastructure and education, so many people either burn trash or throw it into rivers,” Power replied.
“This is a developed nation (first world) problem as well,” she added, pointing out that sending plastic to a landfill is not much more sophisticated.
“We need to improve waste management, environmental education and recycling facilities on a global scale.”
Powers is inviting anyone who wants to help and support them, to donate to the Roatan Marine Park, a non-profit operation to protect Roatan’s fragile coral reefs.
She’s also urging us to reconsider our individual plastic consumption…from ordering takeout in styrofoam, ziplock bag, and tossing our plastic cutlery or leaving our reusable grocery bags at home.