Travel-School means we experience a lot of freedom in our days. We can choose if we want our school-days to be more structured (as they are lately) or rife with adventure. Some of our days are not much unlike a ‘regular school’ day, in that we start early and work our way through subject, after subject. Some days we are traveling or experiencing life outside of the classroom.
However, ALL days we think of ways we can do our part to clean our ocean-home.
Most often, we do the most simple thing, which is bag trash and debris we find floating near the docks. Spending most of our days on the water, means we notice, value and appreciate it. We consider the wildlife around us part of our extended family and we look out for them.
Kids picking up floating debris in Jacksonville. Even the nicest marinas cannot control the influx of pollution from nearby highways and negligent neighbors.
It is the small things in life which count; it is the inconsequential leak which empties the biggest reservoir. – Charles Comiskey
In Marathon, Florida we attended a class on how to spot and report injured sea turtles – which are especially prone to getting caught in nets or floating plastic. In the Abacos, we found the water was crystal-clear, but the open beaches were subject to an abundance of ocean trash at every tide change.
This beach is located on the east coast of the Abacos, opposite Little Harbor. It was the most polluted beach we had seen and yet was adjacent to some of the most pristine beaches on the planet. The angle of the tides, inaccessibility and recent loss of the Cargo Ship El Faro nearby, all contributed to a mass of trash and refuse on the beach.
As we spend time this winter on Florida’s inter-coastal, we are lucky to pull into port in many different cities/towns as we cruise Florida’s protected estuaries and open waterways. We notice trash in the water and we make a strong effort to get it out.
This is a sampling of trash we picked up near our dock in Jacksonville. It’s a gross job, but plastics do not dissolve or disappear unless people physically remove them from the water and dispose of them correctly.
We learned from the documentary film, “A Plastic Ocean” that many waterfowl, sea turtles and most all fish are eating plastics that polute our oceans everyday. They are dying from indigestible items in their stomachs as well as digesting micro plastics that get stuck in the fibers of their little bodies. Can you imagine that we catch fish, and then we eat the microscopic plastic that is embedded in their meat? We. Are. Eating. Plastic. This is really happening. Ew.
It is of great interest to read about the good work of the Rozalia Project, which is making a positive effort to research and create a plan for reducing micro-plastics as well as micro-fibers entering our oceans. According to the Rozalia Project’s recent scientific research, did you know…
“One in 3 shellfish; 1 in 4 fin fish and 67% of all species tested from fish markets in California had microfiber or microplastic in them; a direct link to the human food chain (Rochman, 2015). Even if you do not eat fish, cows, pigs and chicken are fed fish meal, carving another path to our plates.”
Most importantly, their research and solutions, as well as our collective small efforts, are working to keep water-plastics and trash away from foraging animals and out of our FOOD!
While it sometimes feels futile, we make a point to go out on the docks daily with our nets to grab anything floating in the water that should not be there. It is a humbling experience, but worth the effort.
Little bits of colored plastic, like bottle caps, styrofoam or shards of broken plastic bottles look like food to fish, birds and turtles. Clear plastic wrappers and bags look like jellyfish from below and are eaten by mistake.
We feel it is our obligation to be self-appointed “Global-Citizen-Scientists” and to remove these items from the water the best we can.
Cleaning up in Stuart, Florida.
When we are visited on the boat by passing geese, manatee or a sea turtle, we know we have helped to make their home a little cleaner and safer for them.
The ocean gives so much to us ALL – and it is not hard, nor does it take long, to make a small effort to give back.
In 2017, from our family to yours, we implore you to do something – big or small – that makes a difference in someone or something else’s life. You will feel amazing for it, and everyone (+ every living thing!) benefits.
Every piece counts.
Blog Title by McRey and Scottie Busey