O plástico que dá à costa nas praias “paradisíacas” do mundo

O mergulhador Rich Horner publicou um vídeo no Facebook onde mostrou a situação preocupante em Bali. Em Portugal, os números de lixo no mar também são preocupantes.

plástico praias paradisíacas

Quando imaginamos as praias de Bali é possível que a palavra “paraíso” seja das primeiras a passar-nos pela cabeça. Porém, o que a maré trouxe até à costa no início do mês criou um cenário ligeiramente diferente.

“Um belo presente de medusas, plankton, folhas, ramos, plantas, paus, etc… Ah, e algum plástico. Alguns sacos de plástico, garrafas de plástico, copos de plástico, toalhas de plástico, baldes de plástico, saquetas de plástico, palhinhas de plástico, sacos de plástico, mais sacos de plástico, plástico, plástico, tanto plástico.”

É o que escreve o mergulhador Rich Horner no Facebook, onde também publicou um vídeo onde é possível verificar que não, não estava a exagerar.

The ocean currents brought us in a lovely gift of a slick of jellyfish, plankton, leaves, branches, fronds, sticks, etc…. Oh, and some plastic. Some plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic cups, plastic sheets, plastic buckets, plastic sachets, plastic straws, plastic baskets, plastic bags, more plastic bags, plastic, plastic, so much plastic!Surprise, surprise, there weren't many Mantas there at the cleaning station today… They mostly decided not to bother.UPDATE (2018-03-04):As expected, the next day, what the currents bringeth, the currents taketh away!The divers who went to Manta Point today report they saw no plastic/trash at all. Great for the mantas coming in for a clean at the station, but, sadly the plastic is continuing on its journey, off into the Indian Ocean, to slowly break up into smaller and smaller pieces, into microplastics. But not going away. This it what the Manta Point dive site usually looks like:https://www.facebook.com/cheeseandjamsandwich/videos/10154268207458183 https://www.facebook.com/cheeseandjamsandwich/videos/101531583136081832018-03-15 – This UW Tribe podcast is the most comprehensive video interview: https://youtu.be/pwcgCfnpEEY2018-03-15 – This ZuBlu Interview is the most comprehensive in Text form. https://www.zubludiving.com/articles/zublu-insights/plastic-waste-bali-indonesia-rich-horner-videoNotes (Edited):I've uploaded it to YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWgfOND2y68* Where is this? Latitude: -8.7934, Longitude: 115.5271Check it out on google maps (switch to Satellite view, it's a beautiful place!)https://goo.gl/maps/rNbCZh8Dn6D2* Is this normal? No! We see a few clouds of plastic and random plastic during wet season, the low season, sadly. We may see the odd few 'big' rafts/slicks per wet season, but I've never seen one anything like on this scale.Update: It's back to 'normal' again, one day later, the divers didn't see any sign of the plastic at the dive site today!* Are the rafts/slicks natural? Partially, yes. The organic matter, the palm fronds, coconuts, branches, leaves, sticks, roots, tree trunks, etc, also of course seaweeds like the Sargassum seaweed… they're completely natural, and have been washed out of the rivers since forever… But the plastic mixed in with it is not!https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sargassum* Is there anything living in among it all? Yes! The natural rafts/slicks have always given a home, shelter to a wonderful little floating ecosystem of life. Fish, crabs, sea slugs, jellyfish, plankton, algae, etc, etc. The plankton life will be getting bunched up, concentrated by the currents in exactly the same way as organic matter… and the plastic. If you get a chance, a careful close look will reward you with some awesome life!https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sargassum_fish* Why is there so much plastic in one place? Ocean currents and winds push a lot of it together, also gyres big and small concentrate it. The Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) current, which dominates the whole Coral Triangle, giving us the most biodiverse coral reefs and fish life, flows south through the tens of thousands of islands that make up the region and 1/4 of the ITF flows past us, between Bali and Lombok. So we get many things floating past.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_Throughflow* How does the plastic get into the ocean? Mostly it gets washed out of the storm drains of coastal towns and cities. But much of it also gets washed out of the rivers when there's big rains. Some may be directly dumped into the sea from land and boats also. Probably the slick here was from a big storm flushing out a river.https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15611* How does the plastic/trash get into the rivers? Probably dumped there as there's no other place to dispose of it or anyone taking it away. Also a lot is just trash dropped on the street, washed into the gutter, drains, channels and rivers.https://granthaminstitute.com/2017/09/19/when-it-rains-it-pours-how-can-cities-save-the-ocean-from-plastic-pollution-during-heavy-rainfall/* Where does the plastic come from? Bali? Other countries? We don't know for sure. Though most of what we've notice from the labeling has been Indonesian. Almost none of the plastic we see comes from our little islands, Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida, as the rocks that make the island are quite porous, so we have no rivers. But there's a chance that some will be from the rivers of Bali. Also, because of the ITF current, it may have been travelling for quite a while and for hundreds/thousands of kilometers, from anywhere in Indonesia, or north from The Philippines, Malaysia, and beyond…https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/29/if-you-drop-plastic-in-the-ocean-where-does-it-end-up* Where does this plastic go to? Luckily for us, here, the currents that bought it into our bay will take it away again, in a few hours/days. But unluckily for us, everywhere, it doesn't really go 'away'. Plastic doesn't really breakdown, much that it just breaks apart into smaller and smaller pieces… Becoming 'Microplastics'. As with all the plastic in the ocean, it becomes coated in yummy algae that fish, turtles, etc, etc love to eat. So these small/tiny pieces of plastic will be eaten even more, entering the food chain, along with the toxins they contain and have absorbed. That food chain, obviously leads up to us. Microplastics are actually being researched around our islands, and their impact on our manta rays.http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42920383* Can't we collect/clean up the plastic from the ocean? Mostly not. Some gets washed up on the beaches, etc. But the rest is off out to sea, probably forever. The cost in fuel to do get to the plastic and recover it would have a huge carbon footprint and would do more damage than good to the planet. Perhaps in some areas where it's very concentrated it may be viable, and possibly with new technology… It's mostly been said that we have to just stop putting any more plastic in the ocean. We often grab the plastic we see and put in our pockets when diving… But this is too much…http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/42511483https://www.theoceancleanup.com/* Is it all single-use plastic here? No. Much of it is general plastic packaging, for packaging almost everything we buy in the shops/supermarkets. But much of which genuinely is the best choice of packaging for the item/food. Plastic is an amazing material… But the overuse of it, over-packaging, unnecessary packaging and a lot of the single-use and takeaway packaging is what needs to be reduced/eliminated. And then the proper disposal/recycling of what we do need to use. As with most of our problems today, it's hellishly complicated.https://grist.org/climate-energy/are-plastic-bag-bans-good-for-the-climate/* Will not using plastic straws and plastic bags stop this? Save the Planet? No. The proportion by weight of the plastic entering the ocean as bags/straws is really tiny. Most of the weight is made up of more substantial packaging and products. The bags and straws are just the very, very visible/recognizable items. Reducing, reusing, recycling is obviously a way to help, but it's always dwarfed by the root cause of all these issues, that the world is overpopulated by a factor of like 3 to 5 times. Having fewer kids is always the most environmentally friendly act any human can do at the moment. "2 Is Enough" as they say here in Indonesia.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/12/want-to-fight-climate-change-have-fewer-children* Are the jellyfish dangerous? Don't they sting? Not these ones, no. We're very lucky, as we almost never get stinging, dangerous jellyfish in our waters. If they were stinging ones, this video would have very quickly turned into an epic fail video with my bare arms!https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurelia_aurita

Publicado por Rich Horner em Sábado, 3 de Março de 2018

No dia seguinte a corrente já tinha levado tudo consigo outra vez de volta ao Oceano Índico. Esta é uma viajem que começa quando o lixo da rua passa para os sistemas de drenagem das cidades, quando os temporais arrastam lixo para os rios ou quando este é despejado directamente no mar. Pelo caminho vão-se transformando em pedaços cada vez mais pequenos que vão interferindo na vida marinha das mais variadas formas até originarem os microplásticos que acabam por passar para a cadeia alimentar e inevitavelmente chegam ao nosso prato.

Parte da campanha Clean Seas das Nações Unidas, o governo do arquipélago da Indonésia, segundo maior poluente marinho (depois da China), comprometeu-se a uma redução de 70% até 2025. Com um investimento anual de 1 mil milhões de dólares, as medidas passam pelo uso de materiais biodegradáveis como alternativa, taxas sobre os sacos de plástico e uma campanha de educação da população.

Em Portugal

Em 2016 foi divulgado o primeiro estudo sobre o lixo marinho flutuante na Zona Económica Exclusiva portuguesa. A recolha de dados foi feita no Verão de 2011 por uma equipa de biólogos da Universidade de Aveiro e registou mais de 750 mil objectos flutuantes com mais de 2 centímetros.

O plástico é, claro, o principal culpado; seguido da esferovite, restos de materiais de pesca, papel, cartão e pedaços de madeira.

Sara Sá, a investigadora responsável pelo estudo explica que o problema não se fica por aqui – “grande parte do lixo permanece na coluna de água [situada abaixo da superfície] ou deposita-se no fundo do mar, pelo que a quantidade de lixo na superfície do mar não representa a ameaça completa”. Além disso, “grandes quantidades de resíduos à superfície podem estar fragmentadas em pedaços tão pequenos que não são captados pelas análises convencionais”.

Ao analisar os dados do estudo feito pela Seas at Risk acerca do uso de plásticos de uso único e a vida marinha, a Quercus alerta para os números nacionais anuais:

721 milhões de garrafas de plástico
259 milhões de copos de café
1 milhar de milhões de palhinhas
40 milhões de embalagens de fast food
10 mil milhões de beatas de cigarro

No mesmo artigo é referido que o uso de sacos de plásticos leves (com espessura <5mm) diminuiu substancialmente, mas que o uso diário de garrafas e copos de plástico continua banalizado; uma solução possível seria estender a Directiva Europeia dos sacos de plástico a outros produtos descartáveis.

A nível individual é preciso aprender a dizer que não aos descartáveis e a tomar iniciativa própria. Cada um saberá a melhor forma de contribuir para reduzir o seu consumo de plástico de uso único.