Do your bit to keep our beaches in Durban clean on International Coastal Clean Up Day. A simple walk on any beach, anywhere, and the plastic waste spectacle is evident. But what happens to plastic litter if we don’t pick it up whilst we can still see it?
Most littered plastic waste ultimately ends up at sea and as plastic does not fully break down; it ends up as small plastic pellets often referred to as “mermaid’s tears’. These round, shiny mermaids tears are almost impossible to clean up and usually measure less than 5mm in diameter.
The smaller the pieces of plastic get, the more dangerous they are to marine organisms – it’s no wonder the mermaids are crying.
Mermaid’s tears are often so small it takes a magnifying-glass to see them and are even found in filter feeders like mussels, barnacles, lugworms and amphipods.
All sea creatures, from the largest to the smallest, are, at one point or another, swallowing seawater instilled with toxic mermaids tears. From whales, seals, fish, dolphins, turtles, sharks, crabs and birds to zooplankton, plastic is greatly affecting marine life both on shore and off shore whether by ingestion or entanglement. To many ocean inhabitants, plastic pellets resemble fish eggs which are a part of their favourite diet.
Our oceans and coastlines are under unprecedented plastic attack and behind each and every piece of littered plastic is a human face.
The International Coastal Cleanup engages the public to remove trash and debris from the world’s beaches, rivers and estuaries. This year uShaka Marine World is taking this initiative a step forward by encouraging South Africans to pick up plastic litter whilst they can still see it regardless of whether they are in urban cities, rural villages walking along a river bank, estuaries or at the beach.
“As individuals we might not be able to solve the oceans pollution crisis, but we certainly can stop the single plastic we hold in our hands from ending up in the ocean. Take two kitchen gloves and a container with you on Saturday, September 17th and spend just 10 minutes picking up litter wherever you are, the ocean will thank you”, said Jone Porter, Director of Education at uShaka Sea World.