World Oceans Day raises awareness andgt;andgt; do your bit by joining toti conservancy on ITS beach clean-up days

2015-06-10 06:00
PHOTO: supplied

Toti Conservancy members Barbra and Jef d’Engle sailed from South Africa to Brazil and were shocked at the amount of plastic in the ocean.

PHOTO: supplied Toti Conservancy members Barbra and Jef d’Engle sailed from South Africa to Brazil and were shocked at the amount of plastic in the ocean.

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WORLD Oceans Day is celebrated annually­ on 8 June. Similar to our coastal town, more than 60% of the world’s population lives on or near the coast.

World Oceans Day raises awareness of the crucial role the sea plays in providing us with a livelihood, recreation, tourism and natural resources.

“The ocean is Earth’s life support, with 50% to 70% of our oxygen being produced by the ocean. It is the primary source of protein for more than a billion people.

“The ocean regulates our climate­, absorbs carbon dioxide, holds 97% of Earth’s water and supports the greatest abundance of life on our planet,” One World One Ocean reports.

Threatened by overfishing and pollution, the ocean needs protection. One of the biggest contributors to pollution is discarded plastic.

Toti Conservancy members, Barbra and Jef d’Engle say that when sailing from South Africa to Brazil they found there were “rivers” of polystyrene and plastic everywhere in the ocean. According­ to a report recently released by Eye Witness News, scientists estimate that more than nine million tons of plastic will end up in the oceans in 2015.

“Ocean currents collect the plastic into concentrated areas known as gyres, resulting in vast areas of the ocean being completely saturated with plastic.

“These columns of plastic form false ecosystems where fish can get trapped,” says Barbra.

She says plastic is also often mistaken for food by turtles (plastic bags look a lot like jellyfish), sea birds and even the oceans smallest feeders can be misled by tiny plastic fragments which are indistinguishable­ from plankton.

According to the Save our Seas Foundation, an estimated 86% of turtle species, 43% of seabird species, and 44% of marine mammals have plastic in their gut.

Plastic can fill the digestive system of these animals causing them to starve. Scientists are also finding that plastic often acts as a carrier for other pollutants, making it more harmful as it becomes extremely toxic to marine life.

Barbra says they found that most yacht owners are very ocean conscious and disperse their trash on land. She says more environmental education needs to be undertaken by schools, churches and community organisations. Active drives to stop pollution on land, before it gets to the ocean are crucial­

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