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I cannot help from feeling that we are on the edge of losing all that we've become accustomed to.
Everything seems so fragile and yet it is constantly taken for granted
as we carry on with our busy lives blinded by the immediate.
As a child, I remember our waste management providers giving our family various buckets
to sort paper cardboard tin and aluminium and only the special plastics with the special numbers stamped on it.
Beside the sink is where our family's rubbish collected until there was no more counter space.
Frustrated with her four children's lack of responsibility, my mother would take it
to the overflowing buckets in the garage, where she would often forget it.
Then finally my father would get annoyed that his tools were buried and secretly,
or not so secretly, would bin the waste so it never actually made our suburban curb for collection.
This was our part.
As I've grown older, I've become very conscious of our fragile world.
But I've never thought of myself as a conservationist, a radical tree hugger,
and I've definitely never chased a rogue whaling ship, as I've never been to sea.
But somehow, after a couple drinks in San Francisco, with a very passionate friend,
I find myself in a humid port in Brazil, about to sail to South Africa as part of the 5 Gyres Institute's
expedition through the South Atlantic Gyre, documenting plastic pollution for the first time.
...um, prepare supper for eighteen hundred, and then eighteen hundred to twenty-two is wash up after supper.
And twenty-two to zero-two you can just sit and drink tea, ok? (laughter)
With regard to watches, if you can be on time, be vigilant,
keep the log, which is the log book we have to write, and stay awake.
Stiv, if you want to take care and do the anchor and get a couple of people to help you.
With an overwhelming curiosity, I am now a part of this precarious group of inspired strangers,
led by scientists Dr. Marcus Eriksen and his wife, and 5 Gyres co-founder, Anna Cummins.
We're going to head out now, ok!? We're all ready to go.
Next step, Africa.
With fresh eyes, and different networks we are brought together with simply,
to help alert the world.
What we're doing with 5 Gyres and with Algalita is simply looking at the distribution of plastic.
I mean we take a manta trawl, we skim the surface of the ocean,
we count pieces of plastic in a lab and we share the results.
The goal for trawling
is every fifty nautical miles from now until the time we get to South Africa.
In between those times, we deploy the high speed trawl.
It's a relatively new issue, this idea of plastic marine pollution.
Any sailor or navy man who was sailing through the gyre would have seen this plastic
in the last maybe thirty, forty years.
But it wasn't until Captain Moore came upon this area between Hawaii and California
full of plastic trash in an area where sailors don't traditionally go.
When you first pull up some of these samples, as you'll see,
it may not look like a lot of plastic.
You might find less than a handful sometimes only a few fragments,
sometimes it might take taking these samples back to the lab to see if theres any plastic at all.
But whats really interesting to think is here we are in the middle of nowhere
were going to be thousands of miles from the nearest land mass
and still were going to find evidence of our plastic footprint.
And, I want to remind everyone that this is our research mission.
So, I invite you all to embrace what were up to wholeheartedly get involved.
We need your help to accomplish a mission.
First trawl. Forty-nine to go...
The philosophy that there is an away,
that you know we say we throw something away.
That you can create something to be used for a minute that lasts forever,
is evil in my opinion.
What I think needs to happen with people who... companies that produce plastic is...
in the whole scope of the products impact,
they need to calculate for its environmental impact economically.
Oooh! This was the manta not the high speed so this is actually a research sample.
It's the sea-state coming down, huh?
Yeah, it was about a... it was pretty calm it was about a two or a three today.
There's a nurdle. Yep! We have nurdle!
There looks like a piece of some sort of film packaging...
Oh yeah, totally.
Hard to see against the spoon.
Today, I was introduced to a nurdle.
It might as well have been a bean bag pellet only it was a tiny piece of virgin plastic
that was found hundreds of miles off shore.
Given its seemingly insignificant size,
how can Marcus be so dedicated?
I got interested in this topic a long time ago,
when I was young, just in terms of trash debris and plastic.
Then as I got into my undergraduate and I was living in a coastal community, I started reading about marine debris in the ocean,
and I stumbled across Algalita which included Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins.
I started reading about the issue and got super interested and applied for graduate school.
Specifically what I study is the chemical component or the toxicity of plastic debris to organisms
So, I research the chemicals in the plastic debris either through manufacturing,
or that, adsorb or absorb onto the debris in the ocean
and so how that affects the animals in terms of does it transfer to their tissue.
And then, if so, are there toxic affects because of that?
Chelsea's work is extremely important.
What she's shown in her lab already is that pollutants will jump from plastic to fish tissue.
As bigger fish eat the smaller fish... it biomagnifies up the food chain.
Staying under?
Awesome!
This is how you make nerds happy.
So the routine begins, day and night, wind and waves, trawl in trawl out.
Our staggered shifts never quite set,
three groups rotating twenty-four hours a day.
A dinner shift previous, means a four hour watch starts sharp at 2am in a cold night.
Let's see what's in the high speed.
Ooh!
This is perfect for Chelsea's toxicity analysis.
Can I see?
You get to the middle of the ocean and you find a spoon.
Is that what that is?
Whatever it is, it's been in there for a long time.
(Heavy Wind)
Woo!!
For me, I've grown up in the ocean. The ocean has been my second home.
I've been surfing for fifteen years all over the world,
diving, sailing on the ocean, and in way, the ocean is sick
because of pollution. And, we really don't know what the extent of the problem is,
and what kind of damage is it going to take in the long term.
It's been proven that these pollutants, PCBs, DDT, other hydrophobic pollutants stick to plastic.
It's also been shown that pollutants will desorb from the plastic into the tissues of animals.
They eat it, and the pollutants pass from the plastic into their organs.
They're attracted to fats, so there's a perfect synergy for the pollutants
to pass from the plastic into the organs of the animals.
And Chelsea's now working on the next step, which is,
when fish in the open ocean eat plastic, do those pollutants desorb into their tissues?
Beautiful. Yeah!
That's a big fat sushi.
We did a really controlled study in the lab, of dietary exposure of plastic.
I fed them plastic that had been in the ocean for three months, and then plastic just straight from the factory.
And we found that they actually did eat the plastic.
We looked for toxic effects, so we found some interesting stuff with them,
where they were losing weight, some of them looked like, appeared to be anaemic.
We found some single-cell necrosis in their liver and different problems with their thyroids and so,
still working on a lot of that data, but the persistent organic pollutants that we look for in plastics that we're talking about,
they definitely have, what we call, an endocrine disrupting effects, which are problems with reproduction.
Your endocrine system is what controls all the hormones in your body.
And so some of these persistent organic pollutants basically mimic our natural hormones
and then disrupt our normal reproductive system.
I maybe thought that we used too much stuff, because I was geared towards thinking about consumerism,
but the idea of plastic never crossed my mind. I used plastic bags at the market...
You know, I used disposable coffee cups, it just, it didn't cross my consciousness.
I started years ago as a kid, sailing dinghies and always had an interest in the sea and ships and boats.
And just seeing larger chunks sailing and occasionally you come across a patch of trash and...
shit, that's not really good. But you don't realise they are little bits and
they're breaking down and it's there like on the whole.
So I got interested in this issue because I read about Captain Charles Moore
and his research that he had been doing in the North Pacific garbage patch.
He compared his findings to zooplankton
and his information came back that he had six to one ratio of plastic to zooplankton.
Now, I don't know what the negative effects of that is, but I know that it isn't right.
I've been filled with a lot of uncertainty about the trip, about the issues, about everything.
And only a few hundred miles into the four-thousand mile trek,
our main sail is completely ripped along the seams.
Again, I'm not a sailor, as my constant battle to keep my lunch down proves.
But I'm sure, this cannot be good.
The sea dragon's fuel tanks are only meant to carry us through the windless days of the gyre,
not an entire ocean.
So, what we'll to have to do, we'll just organise a sowing circle.
To be honest, don't worry, I mean it would have happened to me, it's an old sail, it's gone along the seam.
This is my second cruise, first one I went to the North Pacific,
and the north Pacific is famous for this garbage patch,
or this big island of trash floating in the middle of the ocean.
What I found when I came back is that people were wondering what was this island like?
In 2008, I had a chance with Captain Moore, and Marcus,
we'd been dating for about 6 months at that point,
so decided that a month at sea was a great way to test our relationship.
We crossed the North Pacific gyre from Hawaii back to Los Angeles,
and I still expected to see an island of garbage the size of Texas.
So, this was a real eye-opener for me, seeing that the issue is really difficult to see.
So, that inspired Marcus and I to start the 5 Gyres Institute
with a goal of expanding that research on plastic in the North Pacific,
which people are starting to know about, to all five oceans.
Everyone nowadays, wants everything instantly.
It's an instant society, gotta have it now now now now now, instant wifi, instant everything.
So everyone wants their instant coffees. No one really worries about their little plastic cups, "oh, it's only one cup."
Stuck on a boat we wait with our own set of worries.
Either we kill time sewing countless stitches, or we sit behind a computer just like at home.
With our expedition slowed with sail repairs, we distract our busy minds with familiar old habits.
Alright! Hauling in number ten!
The life cycle of a piece of plastic - it starts out with these nurdles,
or these virgin plastic pellets, and they mould it into say a plastic bottle,
then let's say the plastic bottle gets out to sea.
Plastics don't biodegrade, they photo-degrade,
which means the light breaks them down into smaller and smaller pieces,
so, once it gets out into the middle of the ocean and it's floating around with the sunlight,
the sunlight breaks it down into smaller and smaller bits.
Soon as it comes out of the river mouth or the sewage outfall pipe or whatever
and goes into the ocean, it's plastic in the ocean.
The gyres are simply just machines driven by weather
that create a circle, that collects it. Gyres are natural phenomenons.
And, beyond two hundred miles of most countries is international water, no man's land.
I'm part of a society that does not take responsibility for it's own waste.
Look at that! Woo!
Wow, that's a lot.
That looks like a nurdle, and that's a nurdle right there.
I mean, they're getting more dense.
Much more colourful, mostly white like we usually see, but...
We've got some blues, reds...
something about the colours of plastics, like there's a theory but I don't know if it's proven.
Yeah, well certain animals can be attracted to other colours.
When you look at the stomach contents of a Laysan Albatross you'll find overwhelmingly more white plastic,
and it may be because they're drawn to that colour because it's a food source, or it mimics a food source,
or because they're foragers, they're you know, they're looking for food from the surface,
and what they might spot first is white, it stands out against the colour of the ocean.
And anything with fish? Any correlation?
You know, I don't know if there's been enough research yet on ingestion.
You know, based on the ones that Charlie looked at in the North Pacific they were mostly white, it's like a food source.
And it may be more visible at night, or it may just be it looks like a fish egg or like zooplankton.
Alright! Process it!
We found a fridge in the Mississippi River, when I was filming for Nat Geo last year.
I hopped into it, and for like quarter of a mile, just paddled in the refrigerator, in the Mississippi.
We saw like seven in total in that month on the river.
I mean, our biggest export, I would bet is trash.
Just junk washing down our watersheds out to sea.
I went to a small town of Peru,
and a little small village, maybe a few hundred people,
but there was a road going out onto the tide pools, and the road ended
and there was a hole in the concrete, and that was a communal dump.
And you look down, and along the beach, thousands and thousands of plastic bottles.
Thousands of them!
Where was this?
Near Nasca in Peru, just south of Lima.
Plastic!! Seven O'clock.
There you go, that's a big chunk!
Big chunk!
Let's go get it!
Jody do you still see it?
Yeah, it's there.
There's a plastic bottle too.
Before I really knew much about the 5 Gyres,
I knew about Marcus' junk raft.
It was a suicide mission to raise awareness.
A ride on a self-made boat of old plastic bottles from California to Hawaii.
It is getting away!
After three months, nearly sinking, running out of food and water, he crossed the Pacific.
While his passion is incredibly inspiring,
the few bits pulled in by our surface trawls every sixty nautical miles, seems hardly worth risking one's life.
I'm on a boat! (Laughter)
Looking for plastic trash!
Hey Dale, I'm gonna go in.
Marcus is going in baby!
Ok, need someone to go down and get the ladder.
Can we have one less camera and maybe a ladder?
(Splash)
Alright, this just got serious!
(Laughter)
No! I'm not laughing or joking...
What's the matter? How is the water!?
It in the forepeak.
We can haul him up or...
Yeah, swim back here Marcus!
You guys get ready to get him out! And get the main down.
Are you ok?
I look at Marcus' stunt work as good for the cause.
I like that he has the courage to train scientists to actually be an activist as well.
Where is he? I can't see him. Tell me where he is!
Dead ahead!
Put your cameras away, we've got a man in the water.
Kinda in shock, I didn't know what to think.
To jump out, and just save this one plastic bottle?
It's a team effort. It's the two of us, and I wouldn't be his partner in these projects if I didn't believe in them.
Careful...
Let's not do that again. Please!
Holy shit! That was cold!
Everyone saw the reality of being in the water and how difficult it is to get somebody up?
Just be really careful. If anything like that happens again...
everyone be quiet, one person talking, i.e., me or Clive.
you do what you're told, ok?
So, it was a good little practise.
When your focus becomes that, exactly,
just trying to educate people about this garbage that's in the middle of the ocean,
yeah it's just one piece, and maybe one piece doesn't make a big difference,
but it's just the idea of it all. To bring as much of it in as we can.
There's so many wars and conflicts and different perspectives of religious and political,
and right-to-life, right-to-choose, all these things that people have their own opinions about,
but water connects us all.
People should stop and think a little bit more about things,
and not be so hypocritical, cause I've been talking to people who are at Starbucks, talking about plastic trash,
and I can just almost imagine them, with their one use spoon, plastic spoon,
their plastic cup in their hand as they are talking to me about this problem.
So, I think there's a lot of speculation and a lot of people jumping on the band-wagon,
follow things, don't just talk about it.
Ok... push again guys!
Ok, let's leave there, that's great.
We successfully got the main back on!
To windward and beyond!
(Laughter)
It's just amusing.
Wait a minute!
Can we get Chelsea and you to do this in unison?
(Laughter)
It's just amusing.
I really wanna see you guys work together on a little show.
To the amazing one handclap lady,
Wow, yum!
Chocolate coconut.
Cheers!! Cheers!! Cheers! Cheers!
To week one! Success!
Three to go!
(Heavy wind and rain.)
So we just threw the small suitcase trawl in for seven minutes,
we had to retrieve it because it was going upside down,
and also in seven minutes, we already caught a lot of debris in this one,
so it must be getting closer to the accumulation zone.
Only a group of nerds like us would get so excited over this. Oh trash!
While there's also this mixture of like, you don't want it to be there,
but you're also really excited when you find it there, cause that's what we're doing here.
Right. Yeah, I know.
People are almost like happy when we find a big trawl of it, then you're like, no that's not right.
Yeah, like I had said to Charlie once,
"Wow, that was a good one!" He goes, "A good one?"
I'm not sure if I'm numb from the nausea
or crazed by the dehydration that comes from throwing up day after day,
but I find the storm's power mesmerising.
Whatever my expectations were, following Marcus around day and night in this rain,
has proven to be exhausting.
We could pull the main up...
If you can let the main sheet right out?
You can pull it up and we'll just tack... and then we're off.
Start letting it out?
Yes, please.
Right now we've got thirty knot winds and six to eight foot seas.
So, while we're sampling the sea surface these kinds of swells
it can cause the trawl to jump and dive,
and you don't want that. You don't want to catch air in your sample as we're cruising along.
Becomes kind of invalid. But if you're going really slow, like we're going now,
we're only going like one and a half knots.
If you go slow enough, you can get a decent sample. But also...
this kind of sea state, causes the plastic debris to churn, and it goes down,
goes downward, so, your trawl will look like there's less debris on the surface,
that's not because there's less debris here. The rough seas are pushing it down.
(Heavy wind and rain.)
Just like other gyres, there is a west and east...
...areas of concentration.
All these dots here, that's where we've been so far...
...we are going to end up hitting all these...
Thirty-one years ago, off the coast of Cape Town,
they did nine trawls, and went out about a thousand miles and came back.
We can replicate probably half of these.
Pretty cool.
Do you want me to take it or you got it?
I got it.
Is trawl number fifteen?
I think it's number sixteen actually.
Wind speed?
Shitty.
This is nuts!
Did you say this is nuts?
This is nuts!
I know, I'm surprised Dale is letting you do this.
This is nuts how we're trawling in this. This is like trawling in a hurricane!
I don't want to lose a...
What?
I just don't want to lose a data point.
I mean, we had a six hundred mile gap in the North Atlantic.
That's cause we went through a hurricane!
Yeah... we should have kept trawling.
I really have to do that study and normalise for sea state.
That would be really cool.
This will be so skewed.
Little dangerous too.
Well, it ain't the girl scouts.
James fell in! I mean... James...
What about girl scouts? (Laughs)
He didn't fall in!
James fell overboard and was caught by his harness last night.
Dale said it was pretty hairy.
Yeah, I believe him...
Let me go back there and...
doing three knots?
It's still a little fast.
Three... it's between three and four.
Don't worry, when he's a dad he won't do this anymore. (Laughs)
I hope not. (Laughs)
With waves crashing and the storm pounding us relentlessly,
Marcus' persistence to get back on schedule,
despite the risk of having to scrap a regular data back at the lab...
is admirable.
But his determination is insane.
I got it!
Letting it in! Ready?
I wonder what it would be like if it were still out there.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight...
at least eight visible pieces.
Nine.
What's interesting is... Is that a nurdle?
I don't know. Might be. Yeah.
With this sea state, when we're not getting the small stuff,
the big fragments are showing up. Yeah.
Like they're... they're super buoyant.
So, even though we've got like forty knot winds,
these are staying on the surface, but then again all the small stuff is...
probably churning down deep.
It's really easy when the weather is like this to forget why we're here.
So even though it seems slightly insane that Marcus wants to continue sampling even in these conditions,
every single trawl has had plastic, we're going to have a nice even transect,
and he's already...
HEY!! HEY!! AHHH!
Woah!!! Heads up! Computers away!
Make it stop raining! (Laughter)
Like the one place you could hang out.
This should not happen. But there's no way to fix this at sea,
I mean, Dale said to fix this, he's going to have to literally take the whole section apart.
This should not happen. No.
Finally, after a week of gale-force winds and rain,
we woke this morning to inviting waters.
When the expedition began, this is what I dreamed about.
A break from the endless flow of emails, ubiquitous advertising and nine to five survival.
But just as a cliché goes, I guess perspective is gained from contrast.
The storm's violence has left a long stream of repair tape on a crucial rigging line,
putting our re-stitch main sail and Jody in peril.
Whoa! ...the red one!
The future can be very scary but I like to look at it,
not in those terms, because,
if I can change one person's mind, to not throw their trash onto the streets,
which you see all the time, and it just comes from ignorance, they don't know any better,
then there's hope.
Now there are third world countries that have no idea that this plastic doesn't absorb into the ground.
Everything that they've ever used, like banana leaves were used for packaging to wrap things up,
and of course if they threw it on the ground it would just go back into the earth.
They don't have a clue that this stuff is going to be around for four hundred to a thousand years.
All of the bio-plastic, PLA, polylactic acid stuff that's in the marketplace right now,
only biodegrades under the right conditions in landfills,
it does not biodegrade in the ocean.
We need a new chemical formula to make truly biodegradable products.
I wasn't even at the top.
Whether it was purely a co-incidence, or justly celebrating good weather,
the calm water made Thanksgiving feel like a picnic at sea.
Three weeks into the voyage, I imagined plain pastas and rice,
but Dale's stocked rations and Stiv's elaborate meals so far along in the expedition
has proven thoroughly impressive.
It does look suspiciously like there's a finger poke right here.
I don't know.
With my stomach graciously back at ease,
miles away from extravagant turkey-day parades,
there's been only one thing on my mind.
And it's definitely not re-run holiday programming or a football game.
Since the very beginning of the expedition
I've had this endless anticipation to see a plastic island.
To swim in chunks of polyethylene, PVC and nylon rubbish,
clouding the sea, capturing the shots to shock the world.
As a filmmaker, this asinine desire still exists,
as tomorrow we near the reality of the gyre.
Plastic!! Seven o'clock!
A hundred yards out.
I'm going go to the bow and just see what...
Yup! Here it is, here it is!
Just off the spinnaker pole about twenty feet.
Yep, right here! It's right under the spinnaker boom...
...it's about five metres.
Can we just drop the stay-sail, it'll make it a lot easier to manoeuvre.
Alright... it's a really quick job.
Get the halyard on the winch. Two pieces and a line right here.
Straight out. Can you see it Mary?
Yeah, it's coming right in. Where do you see it Stiv? Ok, oh perfect.
It's about, I'd say, fifteen metres off this starboard bow.
Reach in! Got to reach! Reach! Reach! Dive James!
Arhhh!
And it's all you Anna! Oh, no, no!
It's too deep! It's too deep.
Two hundred yards!
Alright, stay! Stay! Dead centre.
Arhhh!
Oh shit! Look look look!
Do I still get 10 points?
Yey Chelsea!
I don't think the best use of our time is to come out into the middle of an oceanic gyre and clean it up.
I think the best use of our time is to stop letting it out into the ocean.
See anything else you guys? Yeah, I see something big out there!
After world war two, when we started making all of these single use plastics,
nobody was thinking about the environmental nightmare that might come out of it.
They were thinking more about the convenience and sanitation and health,
think about all the medical equipment that is made out of plastic.
So, I think now, we need to take a step back.
Next! Next!
Alright! Well done!
This is crazy man! Yeah!
I got a little fish! I got a little fish!!! A little fish guy! (Laughter)
Ten feet! Wow! We're in the big stuff now...
Coming down, on the left! Pink!
Owww!
Yeah!!! 20 Points! Yay!
While we make light of these old decaying chunks,
in actuality, I think we all find it startling that in every single trawl
for the last two thousand miles has contained bits of plastic confetti.
Born from these chunks.
So why did you install the satellite phone inside the locker under the sink?
Well, a lot of people talk shit round here so felt it would be appropriate.
(Laughter)
That was a good answer.
The offending part...
which as we can see, has split the whisker.
Nudge.
I find it really rewarding to eat cereal while Dale works.
A bit disgusting, but you got to do what you got to do,
at the end of the day. This design is stupid.
Whale! Woo!
Whale!
Wow, you can see the darkness right there.
As we leave the gyre, the sea has begun to change.
The colour of the water less brilliant blue, more silver grey
as the clouds cross the sun and the wave's crest increasingly rise.
Today a different kind of trawl skim the surface with us.
Unlike Marcus' metallic hydrofoil with a dragon tail of micro-mesh,
this massive sieve breathes air, and watches us with a deeply curious eye.
It's meal, same as our sample, day after day.
Do I look at you or the camera? Uh, me.
Alright.
So you may see when we drag our trawls across the ocean's surface we come up with maybe
one teaspoon of plastic for a trawl that's going two miles, by that much distance.
It might not seem like much, but this ocean is vast, our planet is two-thirds ocean.
So that thin strip that we're sieving, that one table spoon,
it's less than an edge of a razor blade on a football field.
This ocean is vast. If you were to add up all those tablespoons of debris,
those little transects that we trawl, it would add up to tens of thousands of tonnes of trash,
plastic pollution floating, and this is one gyre alone, and there are four more in the world.
It's not just this one little island of trash, this mythical island of trash up the coast of California.
There are many marine organisms that...
from the smallest fish, the smallest jellyfish, the filter-feeding organisms, the zooplankton,
are eating these small particles. There's a chemical burden on those small particles of plastic.
And those chemicals biomagnify up the food chain,
into the fish that we harvest to feed the world.
We're going quite fast. We're going in the right direction, doing about eight knots.
We've done the last of Marcus' trawls and now it's like the repetition of trawls from 1980, yeah?
So, we're going to the points of the chart, guided before,
which pretty much takes us from here straight on in.
Obviously, like I said before, we're not there until we're there, and we just need
to keep our thing together, and keep focused and keep safe, cause it's getting a bit more bouncy...
Just bear in mind as well that with cookies and nice bread that comes out of the oven,
that there are thirteen people on board.
So, some people commented that they went to bed smelling lovely cookies,
looking forward to them, but woke up and there were none left.
It is a team and you know... Sorry. (Laughter)
Maybe we just lock Marcus in the forepeak. (Laughter)
There's one thing that I'd really like to point out.
That the dangerous part of the voyage is that, leaving and arriving.
When we were leaving we had fish boat we almost hit,
and there's lots of ships and stuff. Now it is the backwards way.
There's going to be ships coming out, they'll be a lot more traffic around the Cape.
There might be fishing boats and we're going to be tired, and wanting to get in,
but it's the most dangerous part of the voyage. If you're on watch, you're on watch,
looking at stuff, especially now. We had a ship that's close to us, just now.
So you've really got to be on watch everybody.
Yeah, they won't all pop up on here. They'll be local fishing boats and stuff that won't pop up. So...
The closer we get, the more dangerous it's going to get.
Keep awake and aware.
I'm reading the book Adrift,
and in it he describes the life of a sailor,
where when you're out at sea, you can't wait to get to port,
and when you get to port you can't wait to get back out to sea.
And, I think it's the same for me.
What I like most about it is...
the camaraderie and the community, that you form at sea.
I'm sort of convinced that somewhere contained in that sort of community
is the solution to problems like global garbage in an ocean.
With this bizarre taste of sea life nearly over,
I think of our great plastic hunt in the gyre.
As frivolous as the hunt may have seemed,
I cannot help but think of the responsibility we all share.
...three, go!
Whether a wealthy executive, or struggling farmer,
our goals become aligned when we have children.
Will the research from our last trawl,
be enough to tell a story that changes their future?
Where I live we clean the beach all the time.
Week later, back again.
And what are you going to do? Just keep cleaning it.
You can't clean up the ocean.
For me it's all about thinking of ourselves as caretakers of the environment
rather than destroying it, and it's shocking to me how few people actually think of it that way.
There's many environmental issues right now that are hurting our marine life, and hurting our ecosystems,
and we can't even point at one environmental issue and say it's the worst,
but I think we can try and ameliorate some or all of them to a certain extent.
If there really were an island we could conceivably go and get it.
But having seen what I've seen in four oceans, I really don't think clean-up is an option.
I think the best we can do is damage control and preventing it from getting worse.
Once you get your liquid beverage... (chatter)
I was invited on the Sea Dragon to help spread the word with my plastic wrapped camera
to a plasticized world.
But what do I say?
We saw no immediate consequence, we saw bits.
Lots and lots of bits.
How does one fathom the significance?
Wahoo! Wow!
That was slightly dangerous.
Does it take one species after another to fall like dominos to incite change?
Happy birthday Mary!
And here's to getting to Cape Town safely and soundly very shortly.
Hopefully before it's not Mary's birthday.
For my own part, now that the voyage is finished
I know I will still enjoy take-away coffees, straws with milkshakes,
with my only choice plastic, I certainly will continue to brush my teeth every day.
But after thirty-one days at sea, consumed by plastic pollution,
I do wonder if I'll become that eccentric guy at a cafe,
flipping out over a plastic lid.
I guess that's we'll find out when reality hits.
(Radio Chatter) Alright Guys, who's on your watch?
Welcome everybody, welcome to the Two Oceans Aquarium.
And a very, very warm and South African Capetonian welcome to the Five Gyres crew
who arrived here in the very small hours of Thursday morning to very thick fog
after quite an arduous trip from what I can gather.
So this journey that we just completed four thousand miles plus,
was the first of its kind studying plastic pollution in this area.
It's only been fairly recently that people have known about this issue,
but we're now finding that plastic pollution can be found in virtually every ocean
in every coastline in the world.
We drop this trawl in the water, skim the ocean's surface for one mile,
then another sixty miles, then trawl again.
Every single one was full of this plastic confetti.
This is the remains of a Laysan Albatross,
these birds feed their young by regurgitating what they've collected around the world.
Plastic bottles, bottle caps, lighters...
This is a common snapping turtle, that became entrapped in a small plastic ring when she was a baby.
These are preproduction plastic pellets.
Over time they're absorbing all these other chemicals that are washing down our watersheds,
things like oil drops from cars, pesticides, PCBs,
wash into the sea and they stick to plastic particles like a sponge.
If we know that fish are ingesting plastics
and other marine life are ingesting plastics, as has been recorded in the scientific literature,
how does it affect them, right? How does it affect their reproduction?
Does it cause death? Do they just pass it out without any chemicals?
And what we're seeing is that these chemicals do transfer,
so how is this effecting their life?
What we're trying to show the world is that this is a global problem.
Plastic is washing into our seas from every continent in the world,
and it will take international co-operation
implemented at a local level to solve this issue.
You have that personal question you have to ask yourself. Cause now you can't claim ignorance.
Do you do something about it? Or, do you walk away?
The material is tortured into existence in a laboratory using a gas called petroleum as it's source.
The polymers are strung together through a catalysing process.
Additives are thrown in to tweak the material to it's optimum purpose.
Finally, we have a material that is strong, durable, flexible, light-weight
and can be shaped to every desire.
Colours and varieties mix together, swept along by the tides of life,
it is both good and bad, evil and pure.
We project our ignorance and indifference onto the broken and banished goods,
putting them out of sight, into the highway, out of the light.
We return to our trodden lives of nine to five survival,
with nothing more than a handful of plastic bits,
conscious of the bleakness, the skepticism,
an impossible task of changing our habits,
we will only relent to ourselves.
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PLASTICIZED ~ Feature Documentary Film

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VoiceTube published on March 4, 2014
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