In an apparent guerilla stunt, a wildlife sculpture in downtown Vancouver has been "caught" in a giant plastic 6-pack ring. The sculpture, located at the corner of Georgia and Thurlow Streets, depicts two dolphins, whose necks are now caught in the giant plastic rings marked with the "PlasticPollutionCoalition.org" web address.
This stunt is a large-scale reminder of the dangers of litter, particularly plastics, in our ocean. Approximately 75-80 million tons of plastics are used every year to produce the world's food packaging alone, and a large proportion of these plastics inevitably end up in our oceans. Almost 80% of the garbage found in the ocean comes from land-based sources, with the majority being packaging and food containers like the ubiquitous 6-pack ring featured in this guerilla demonstration. This garbage kills sea creatures by strangling them, drowning them through entanglement, or even starving them through malnutrition when ingested debris in the creatures' stomachs prevents them from getting the food and nutrients that they require.
Over the weekend I attended ScienceOnline2010, a raucous gathering (if conferences can be raucous) of scientists and journalists. I met some great folks, including Miriam Goldstein -- one of my favorite ocean bloggers -- of Oyster's Garter fame. (She also recently joined the salty bloggers over at Deep Sea News.)
Miriam was the chief scientist for last summer's Scripps SEAPLEX expedition to the Pacific garbage patch. As if being chief scientist weren't enough, she also blogged and tweeted the journey. And as she hilariously illustrates in this story from one of the first days of the expedition in the California Current, sometimes science doesn't like to be live. (Apologies in advance for my, um, budding video skills.)
The SEAPLEX expedition received a ton of press attention. So after the session, I asked her, "Has the media overblown the pacific garbage patch?" She said, "Well, yes, in a way. There is no 'island' of trash -- the ocean is homogeneous. But it is also way, way worse than we thought."
Look out for the results of the SEAPLEX expedition later on in 2010.