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[THE WIRE] Plastic

Day 21

While Ben is swimming we keep a constant watch on him and the dinghy crew, at the same time we are looking at the vast amount of water around us. We see something disgusting; rubbish and debris floating around us, this is not a rare occasion, in fact, it is quite the contrary and near enough constant. If you look hard enough you can spot a piece of rubbish almost every minute. Some days we spot less, others more, yesterday was a particularly bad day. The rubbish you see is in various forms including; whole plastic bottles, styrofoam, fragments of plastic etc.

When I see this I feel really sad, the impact our rubbish has on the rest of the world stretches far further than just the areas of land that we live on. In a way, a lot of the effect we are having on the environment around us is out of sight and thus out of mind. We don’t see it, we don’t necessarily get affected by it directly, this makes it far easier for us to ignore the problem. I feel it is necessary to show everyone what affect we are having on the world around us and the responsibility we have to start taking care of it.

When it is possible, we catch some of the rubbish, and we can see how new life and ecosystems are forming on the plastic. On one side, it is impressive to see how the nature is so resilient, and how the organisms and the life adapt to the change in the environment. But at the same time that new life is growing and adapting to the changes in their habitat, there are many others that are being negatively affected, and I believe that there are many effects that we are not seeing yet.

We are collecting some samples of rubbish to show the kind of pollution that is in the ocean, we record the location, using GPS and take pictures of the rubbish that we can not catch, and we are creating a library of rubbish along the track of the swim.

It is interesting because The Swim is just one line across the Pacific Ocean, a fraction of its entirety, if we are seeing this much rubbish, then imagine the amount that must be in the entire Pacific and our other oceans! Integrated in formal science protocols, our observations will be a valuable source of information to find “accumulation zones” of plastic and have an idea about how the debris is being moved through the ocean.

We need more information to feed the models and studies that are trying to explain what is happening with the debris in the oceans, with more data the models should be more accurate which should lead to a better understanding of the problem. To understand the problem is one step, but most importantly, we have to act together to make a change.

This expedition is an opportunity for that, to show people all around the world the problem that we have created for the oceans and how urgent it is to start fixing it.

We may not be able to clean up the entire mess that we have created so far, however, we can focus our intentions on preventing further polluting our oceans. The roots of the problem, for me, run far deeper than it seems. We need to rethink not only the plastic packages, single use plastic, and our waste and recycle managements. We have to think about our lifestyle, our relationship with nature, our reflex to produce, buy, and quickly waste.

I am sure the attention Ben is getting with his crazy swim is a good opportunity to raise awareness on plastic pollution, and take action together.

María

 

 

About María Amenábar Cristi
23 years old
Chile
Research Assistant

I am studying environmental engineering, before The Swim I had been working in microplastic research. I was involved in a citizen science program for children, I was collecting garbage sample from beaches, and collaborating in studies about social weelling to change plastic consumption conducts.

I have spent time sailing through the Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, Patagonia fiords and Cape Horn. I also was part of a sail expedition to Antarctica, where we did sample collection and science logistic. Be part of The Swim is an opportunity for me to join my passion for sailing with my vocation to care about the environment.

During the expedition, I will be coordinating the sampling collection for the protocols that we are following with the science team on land. With The Longest Swim, I hope to spread awareness about caring for the ocean and the urgency to change our behaviour with nature. I want to show to the people around the world the impact of our acts, and try to spread a reflective message about this problem.

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17 comments

  1. Hello María and Ben,

    Thank you for your amazing work and commitment to our oceans! We have been learning about marine biomes in class and pollution problems in the ocean. You inspire us.

    Sincerely,
    Ms. Tso’s 4th/5th grade class, Henry Hudson Elementry
    Vancouver Canada

    1. Hello Ms. Tso’s 4th/5th grade class, Henry Hudson Elementry! Thank you for following along on the journey. If you have any questions for me or my crew please email hannah@thelongestswim.com, we would love to get your class involved!

  2. Hi Maria,

    Thank you for this update on the state of the oceans. It is, sadly, as I expected. Your words about the pollution of the oceans being out of sight and thus, out of mind, is very resonating and so very true. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing awareness and scientific data to this very prevalent and very impactful issue.

    Kaitlin

  3. Thank you Maria for this update and for bringing awareness to the issue of plastic pollution. Goodness, what you are all doing is fantastic! At my work as a fitness instructor, I share the Logbook with my clients and keep reminding everyone to use water bottles instead of plastic cups.

    Blessed be your journey!!

  4. Thank you Maria – this is scary stuff but each and everyone of us inhabiting the planet needs to be made aware of how our consumerist behaviour is spiralling out of control and the repercussions of this. Sometimes as an individual person, one can feel so helpless and locked into the voracious consumerism around us. But each small decision to opt out of an excessively consumerist lifestyle and make decisions that don’t harm the planet, is a small victory.

  5. Sad but so important for the world to see pictures of our day to day waste and where it can end up. Single use plastics and the total disregard for where it goes after use is a joke. The producers should be held responsible.It is important to stay positive. What you and the team are doing are going to make a difference. I read this with my son and this is going to inspire a generation to find solutions and simply change the way we interact with our world. You guys are awesome. Thank You.

    1. Hello David, Thank you so much for following my swim with your son. I hope to inspire the next generation to be more respectful to our oceans and think about their usage of single-use plastic. Ben

  6. Maria and Ben,

    I want to thank you for the research and expedition you’ve taken on to bring attention to the world’s oceans and how thoughtless humans are to this ecosystem. In my own way, I have plucked plastic and trash from seas, lakes, bays, and oceans when sailing. I’ve also contributed to the Florida 4Oceans efforts.

    Kudos to Ben and the support/research teams for “The Swim” and all you are doing to raise awareness to save our oceans.

    “When a man does not know what harbor he is heading for: no wind is the right one.” Seneca, Roman Philosopher

    1. Hello Georgia, thank you so much for your comment. That’s fantastic what you’re doing, every bit counts! Ben

  7. So sad and shameful. According to many researches the most polluted area is between Hawaii and the West coast of the US.
    This year Ocean Cleanup company will start massive cleaning in this huge area. Lets hope for their success.

    1. Hello Nadav, yes it is very sad! I will be swimming in this area, the accumulation zone, later this year. I hope to inspire people to cut back on their use of plastic to prevent further pollution in the oceans, as for some plastic, it’s too late to be cleaned as they’ve broken down to mico plastics.

  8. My day here in germany always begins with an update about your position and hopefully good news from the logbook. Days like this turns the project from first being interesting into a possible lifechanger. I also share this thoughts with my familiy. Who knows, which impact can be achieved during this crazy journey, when people tell other about it and these again share their experience with their fellows. Thanks so much for your passion and don‘t give up!

  9. Dear Team,

    We are all so impressed with your dedication and look forward to learning the good, the bad, and the ugly from your research- and most importantly collect ideas and information on what we can do to slow down the destruction we are raining down on our oceans.
    Keep going, and thank you for the blog

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