National Marine Week – celebrating the big blue

National Marine Week is celebrated annually during the second week of October (12th – 18th) to celebrate the diversity of our marine and coastal areas and to raise awareness around the issues affecting them. This year we are focussing our campaign on one of the most pressing issues facing our oceans at a global level: land-based marine pollution. Chemicals incorporated in, or attracted to plastics floating in seawater, have a broad range of potentially toxic, carcinogenic and hormone disturbing effects. Plastic is now found on virtually all South African beaches, even the most remote, and researchers are now also finding plastic rubbish in Antarctic regions. Sea turtles and sea birds are some of the most seriously affected species, as a consequence of not only habitat loss and bycatch, but also through entanglement in, and ingestion of marine litter. Unfortunately, the dumping of plastic waste into the ocean is on the rise. Surveys carried out five years apart in South African beaches showed that the densities of all plastic debris have increased substantially and that plastic constitutes over 80% of all debris collected. Scary stuff.

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