In the middle of the Ocean

Somewhere between Tristan da Cunha and St. Helena, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I’m on deck, hoping for some birds or marine mammals, but only occasionally seeing a flying fish or two. Suddenly someone calls out, something is seen in the ocean! I quickly grab my camera, locate what is seen and take a picture.

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Plastic water bottle in the ocean

Right, a plastic water bottle, floating in the ocean. In the middle of the ocean. I lower my camera and have a seat again. A little later a large styrofoam box drifts by. Two years ago I saw several Northern Gannets slightly further north, next to the West African Coast with fishing ropes attached to their bills. And that’s only what we can see. Most of the plastic has degraded to small pieces and are now part of the food chain. Our food chain. Microplastics have been found already in sea salt bottles sold in shops in Europe, America and Asia. So part of this plastic bottle might end up on your dinner plate. And if not, it takes on average 450 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose completely.

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Polar Bear cubs playing with a plastic water bottle

Today is World Environment Day, a day to look at the way we treat our planet. Our only planet, we still haven’t found a backup. So maybe it’s time to think about the way we treat her, not only for the sake of the planet but also for our own sake. I’m delighted that the company I work for, Oceanwide Expeditions, is trying hard to get rid of its single-use plastics on board. No single-use plastic water bottles any longer, but solid, reusable ones that can be refilled with the water stations on the ship. And the use of plastic straws is also reduced (and soon there will be no plastic straws onboard anymore). Small steps, maybe, but all these little steps made by many individuals will together make a big leap.

 

Will you join as well?

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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