I hope today’s post title didn’t mislead you into thinking that the Mediterranean is rubbish. On the contrary. There’d be barely any other area in the world able to compete in terms of variety, diversity, culture, geography and cruising ease. What, however, makes my heart sad, my mind wonder and my soul cry is the amounts of rubbish we’ve observed, whether that’s in France, Spain, Italy, Malta, Turkey or Greece. The latter is by far the worst and it is almost unheard of to anchor off or swim to a beach where plastic is not a dominant factor. But even here in Turkey, where folks seem a bit more proactive and at least on paper there’s environmental protection efforts made, a thin layer of tiny plastic is most often than not visible, even if there’s only a handful of bags, old plastic bottles and cigarette butts on the beaches.
Probably not surprisingly, sea-life across the Med has been more than meager. I sometimes nostalgically remember diving in Thailand, Cuba, Vanuato, Fiji and back home in Australia. The quantity and diversity of fish, corals and other sea creatures is simply unimaginable for the average Mediterranean guy. Today we are anchored off in a secluded island, a mile across a massive tourist resort. Every morning at 8h30am a group comes over for a dive tour – in the graveyard we call it. While bunnies and mountain goats adorn the picturesque little island, below water there’s nothing by grey dead seabed, broken tree trunks and mostly rubbish. What a scam! In that regard, I can’t wait to get to the Caribbean late this year. Yet still, that won’t make me forget how we are treating the planet – and at sea there’s so many obvious signs for it. One day the ocean is going to talk back to us big times. And it’s loud, I can tell you, and if you are part of the species who thinks humans are bigger than big and we can dominate nature, trust me when I say you are wrong. It’s gonna bite back and it’s gonna hurt. Don’t throw away any more rubbish. In fact, we’ve stopped fighting the urge to collect rubbish on the beaches we go to. I don’t care that locals look at us bewilderedly thinking – ‘Since when’s the local council ordered foreign tourists (that’s me blondy, as Pablo always passes as a local with his Mediterranean looks, no matter where we are!) to collect our sh…?’. At least I’ll be able to look into my grand-children’s eyes and say that we’ve tried a bit.
To finish off this disturbing topic, here’s a few stats which I just kindly was reminded off by one of the local Turkish boatyards as part of a completely overpriced haul-out quote from a completely rubbish-inundated yard… (random, I know – English corrected…):
Did you know?
- Nearly half of the world’s population lives near coasts.
- Approximately 250 million people a year catch respiratory infections and gastro-intestinal diseases caused by swimming in dirty waters .
- Garbage being dumped into the sea kills more than 1 million sea birds every year.
- 70 % of the oxygen needed to live is provided by the world’s oceans.
- 65 % of anti-cancer drugs are developed from marine creatures and plants.
- Each year, 450 billion cubic meters of untreated or partially treated garbage, industrial and agricultural waste are dumped or discarded into the sea.
- 675,000 kg garbage of which 50 % are plastics are thrown into the sea every hour.
- It takes paper 2-4 weeks, tin cans 100 years, aluminium 200-500 years and glass bottles 1,000,000 years to decompose in the sea.
- 1 litre of oil can contaminate 1,000,000 litres of water.
If you suffer under the developed world issue of having no time but some money to spare, consider donating to this worthwhile OceanCleanUp project trying to eliminate the gigantesque rubbish collections floating in the Pacific Ocean.