Floating Death

I am a fortunate person. I spend a lot of time on the oceans. I get to see and experience amazing things.

But there's a dark side as well. I also get to see and experience much of the havoc and desecration that we wreak upon the seas...to witness what 99.999% of humanity never sees and readily ignores.

Take the following photograph for example:

ghost fishing net, Indian Ocean
Floating death, courtesy Homo sapiens

It's a net, or rather, it's what's left of a fishing net or nets, along with lots of line, twine, burlap sacks, fishing hooks, plastic bottles, buoys and an assortment of other non-biodegradable junk.

It is, as far as ghost fishing nets go (a term used to describe discarded and/ or lost fishing gear like this that floats around the world...choking, entangling, maiming and killing marine life along the way) rather small. Some migrant nets like this can be enormous.

Relatively diminutive though this composite of synthetic death may have been, it was still lethal.

dead fish entangled in fishing net
What's left of a fish. Death by entanglement.

I started this year with a blog post about garbage in the seas (see Lost and Found), because I have, just in my short lifetime, watched the oceans go from beautiful and almost unspoiled, to still very pretty, but hideously scarred by millions upon millions of pieces of waste, much of it comprising plastics and other long-lived synthetic substances.

Worse, the quantity of human-generated detritus in the oceans seems to be exploding at an exponential pace.

There are a lot of problems facing the world, so it's difficult to get public attention, especially for out-of-sight-out-of-mind issues like this. Garbage is nowhere near as exciting or sexy a topic as sharks, mantas, pandas, tigers and such.

But let's call a spade a spade.

Our collective garbage is killing the oceans, everything in it, and eventually us.

For all of you with cameras who are lucky enough to travel, take photos and post them on Facebook and the like...I challenge you to point your cameras at the ugliness you encounter as well, to highlight it, and make it an issue that can't be so easily ignored.

sea turtle killed by discarded fishing gear
Lifeless blob that was a formerly a sea turtle. Death by entanglement.

I know you see stuff like this, because there's so much of it. So very much.

Only taking pretty pictures and selfies at best doesn't help, and at worst, makes this issue worse by hiding the problem and making it easy for everyone to look the other way and pretend that everything is just fine.

blue whale entangled in fishing net
Blue whale entangled in fishing gear. Swimming Dead.