Debris, Garbage and Rubbish

This week's posting is not about cute, cuddly or other interesting bits of wildlife. This is the natural history of waste. While filming in waters off the Philippine island of Cebu, the crew encountered a typhoon, a common enough experience for that part of the world, and in itself not very remarkable perhaps. Though it did create some interesting rain drops on sea water effects, as you can see from this still image taken from the film.

No, the point of interest in this week's posting lies with the amount of debris which the winds and currents churned up, to produce a long slick of flotsam and jetsam.

What astonishes me is the sheer amount of true debris, garbage, and rubbish that you can see, hidden amongst the uprooted and broken bits of seaweed. Most obvious is plastic, plus other unidentifable things, the origins of which I don't really want to guess. Of course I know that the oceans are polluted, and have been for decades, but it's not until you have close personal experience that the size, scale and nature of the problem is realised. I was not on the trip of course, but the crew have talked about it in the tea-room since.

Greenpeace have an illuminating (if that's the right word) website, describing what is known as the 'trash vortex', which lies in the eatern part of the Pacific Ocean where winds are light and the currents bring together huge amounts of rubbish.

The threats to wildlife from the unsightly mass of mess are well known. Entanglement in plastic by turtles, or marine mammals can lead to drowning. And ingestion of larger items of debris by seabirds who mistake it for prey, can lead to starvation.

NHNZ Images has amongst its holdings things like pollution that unfortunately show the world in its true light. If you cannot find what you are looking for on our on-line database then please don't hesitate to contact us and ask.