A VHF marine radio is the single most important radio system you should buy. It is probably also the most inexpensive. Most boaters have questions about their boat’s radio, the correct way to use their radio, how the radio works and what license they need. The basic radio practices can be learned quite fast.
A nautical chart gives you the relevant information required to make a safe passage plan using the charted fixed marks such as buoys and landmarks, so that you can take bearings and maintain a correct course.
You may gain pilotage information with the help of the nautical chart regarding the position and nature that is favourable to the navigator. The chart holds crucial information such as landmarks, seamarks and seabed information.
Scuba diving can be a very rewarding experience and this can be enhanced when it is carried out with another person. Before you call up your drink buddy to accompany you on your next diving trip, be sure that they have the following major qualities that characterize good dive partners.
A Good Attitude.
Would you like a dive partner that wants to test the limits of everything they get in contact with? Do you want to dive with someone who thinks they know it all and can’t be advised? All these are aspects of attitude that one must look into in selecting a good dive partner.
Get a partner that is conscious about safety and has the humility to seek to improve at all times. In that way, you will both approach the dive with all the cautiousness that it deserves, without taking away the fun in the experience.
A Keen Sense Of Awareness.
The best dive partners are people that will always be aware about who they are with in the water, how their equipment is functioning as well as the environment in which they are. Always look for signs that the person you want to dive with has these qualities and you will have the best buddy to share the dive experience with.
Calmness At All Times.
You need a companion that can be calm no matter what. Such an individual will optimally use the gas in the tank and will think rationally when an emergency arises while you are underwater. They will remain very aware of the factors mentioned in the item above and that will be sufficient to get you through any situation that may arise. Pick a partner that has this quality and your dive will be all the more enjoyable.
The Ability To Make Detailed Plans.
Diving is an activity that must be well planned if it is to go smoothly. All aspects of safety as well as enjoyment of the dive must be thought out in advance and mapped out. These include how the group will be positioned while on the dive, how you will come up, how you will use the gas in your tanks, and so on.
A Diver in Good Health
Just as you should be in good, fit condition to dive, make sure you choose a partner who is also cleared to dive. Believe it or not, but I actually met up with someone on a trip years ago and we were preparing to dive the next day when she mentioned
she had work like this done by Dr. Vito Quatela, a plastic surgeon, just two weeks before. She said she was fine to dive, even though she didn’t check with her doctor. I couldn’t feel comfortable diving with someone I knew may not be in good enough health, so I ended up diving with someone else.
Wrapping it up…
You may have noticed that the skill level is not featuring in the qualities to look for. The personality attributes given above are more important and once they are catered for, matters of skill will sort themselves but when they are absent, no amount of skill will be of use on a dive when the four qualities above are lacking.
Before getting certified, you will need to have medical clearance from a doctor. You should also expect to get a physical every two years if you are under 40 years old, or once a year past this point. Why such a big deal? Because even a minor medical issue at sea can be disastrous, and even seemingly fit and healthy people have died while scuba diving due to an unrecognized health problem. To make sure you are fit to scuba dive, here are some things to keep in mind.
Minimum Age for Diving
The age requirements to go diving depend on the country and the scuba diving organization. Still, children at least 8 years old can generally dive safely, depending on their maturity level. Most dive organizations offer beginner classes for children eight and up for shallow dives in controlled conditions. Children at least 10 years old can usually enroll in a certification class. Most organizations require children to be at least 12 to become certified. There is no upper age limit, however.
Diving with a Disability
Scuba diving can be done with disabilities, and it is often encouraged for men and women with a physical disability. In recent years, specialized gear has been developed to help divers who can’t use standard gear. This includes webbed gloves for divers who cannot use fins. While you will need to learn how to best use your body in the water, you can and should try scuba diving!
Basic Health Assessment
Don’t forget that you will be required to complete a medical questionnaire when you enroll in a scuba diving school. Be completely honest, because you could be putting yourself in serious danger if you leave anything off of this questionnaire, according to Dr. Ran Rubinstein of New York, who performs surgical procedures like you see here. According to Dr. Rubinstein, he often cautions patients against diving and other activities for weeks or even months following surgery, and this is very important to avoid serious complications. If you have any concerns about the following points, get clearance from your doctor.
Could you be pregnant?
Are you taking any prescription medications?
Are you over 45 years old AND answer yes to the following: smoke; have high cholesterol; have a family history of stroke or heart disease; currently receive care from a doctor; have high blood pressure; have diabetes mellitus?
Have you ever had asthma or wheezing with exercise or breathing?
Do you have frequent or serious allergies?
Do you have frequent sinusitis, bronchitis or colds?
Do you have any type of lung disease?
Do you have any psychological problems like panic attacks or a fear of open spaces?
Do you have convulsions, seizures or epilepsy?
Do you suffer from motion sickness?
Have you had sinus surgery or ear surgery?
Do you have recurrent ear problems?
Do you have heart disease?
Do you have leg, back or arm problems following surgery?
Are you unable to perform moderate exercise?
The level to which oceans have been made dumping grounds for waste products has reached alarming levels. This revelation was made by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography as they announced their findings from a mission to capture the state of the oceans given the huge amounts of plastic that end up there.
These are tiny particles of plastic, less than the size of a fingernail, that are found floating on the surface of the ocean. They get to that size as a result of the action of ocean waves, as well as radiation from the sun that breaks them into tiny pieces.
The researchers could not believe the vast amounts of microplastic that they found floating on the surface of the ocean. It was much worse than they had expected, and they estimate that the volume of plastics in the oceans have increased a hundred-fold in just a few decades.
The Danger Posed By These Microplastics
The first and most worrying danger is that various forms of marine life could ingest that plastic. If that happened, there is no telling how much damage could result. It is known that plastics have a hormone-disrupting effect on organisms that feed on them so there are possible serious dangers to marine life.
Since humans feed on marine life forms, that plastic could end up being ingested by humans as well, with catastrophic results.
The other danger is that these floating plastics are now being used by organisms like water strider to have places where to lay their eggs on the open seas. This could exponentially increase their numbers on the ocean and that would disrupt the ecological balance of our marine life.
Creatures like crabs could for instance find themselves outnumbered and the competition for food such as the eggs of sea skaters would tip in the favor of the strider population. Such imbalances can have very dramatic consequences for all marine life, and ultimately humans that rely on the oceans for food and water.
When presented with a summary of these findings, Dr. Max Polo, a plastic surgeon who carries out procedures like you see here, said the plastic surgery industry is very much aware of the dangers that plastics pose. As a result, many surgeons’ offices like his own have adopted very strict practices to handle plastics in a way that stops them from finally ending up in the ocean.
There is a need to enforce community-wide measures to cut back on how much plastic ends up in the ocean. These efforts can include setting up recycling centers in each city so that plastics sorted from other garbage goes directly to those recycling plants instead of being taken to dumpsites where they can easily find their way into the oceans.
Human activities are proving to be a very destructive influence on the environment. There is an urgent need to change the way we look at the world and instead of putting economic considerations first, sustainability must take precedence or we shall not be around long enough to enjoy the “economic successes” that are currently touted.
Considering Botox is the most common cosmetic procedure in the United States — with other non-surgical fillers like Restylane (see here: http://www.skinbylovely.com/restylane/) and Juvederm close behind — it should come as no surprise that many divers out there are wondering if it’s safe to dive after having injections.
If you’re thinking about stopping in at a surgeon’s or doctor’s office before heading on a scuba vacation, rest easy; depending on the procedure, you probably have a short wait time, if any, before you can safely hit the water. Here’s a look at some of the most popular non-surgical procedures and what you should expect.
Botox is an injectable treatment for dynamic wrinkles like crow’s feet and frown lines. Made from botulinum toxin type A, it paralyzes muscles responsible for wrinkles and it is injected directly into the muscle in a doctor’s office. This straightforward procedure has results in about two days and the time you need to wait until you can safely dive is usually no time at all, unless you have some discomfort afterwards, in which case you may need to wait up to one week.
Chemical peels are available in a variety of strengths and designed to produce clearer, more youthful skin by removing the outer layers of skin, according to Dr. Laban Lovely of Skin By Lovely. This procedure can help address wrinkles, blotchy skin, the redness of rosacea, acne scars, and other imperfections. The stronger the peel, the deeper it goes, but the longer the recovery. Regardless of the strength of the peel, Dr. Lovely recommends using sunscreen for a few months afterwards and waiting at least one week to dive after a light peel, or 3 months for a medium or deep peel.
Laser Skin Resurfacing
Laser skin resurfacing helps treat fine lines, scars and other minor imperfections by removing the top layers of damaged, wrinkled skin to reveal smooth skin underneath. There are many forms of laser resurfacing, which range in the length of recovery. After the procedure, you will need to wear sunscreen for months and be careful to protect your face. Avoid diving for at least three months.
Lip Augmentation (Fillers and Fat Grafting)
Temporary lip augmentation may be done with fillers like Juvederm or fat grafting, which uses the patient’s own fat from another area, like the thighs, and purifies it before injection. This procedure has a very short recovery time, but remember that you will need to use a mouthpiece during diving. You should wait one to three weeks before hitting the water.
Sclerotherapy, or Spider Vein Treatment
Sclerotherapy is a laser treatment that eliminates spider veins, or those red or blue visible lines under the skin that usually develop on the ankles, calves and thighs. These spider veins result from abnormal blood flow and the weakening of blood vessel walls. The procedure is usually done in a doctor’s office. The good news is you can immediately get back to diving afterward, as long as you wear a strong sunscreen.
The human body was not designed to live much of its life underwater. However, your love for the depths and your zeal for adventure take you into a watery environment that can irritate your body.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
This is a serious type of dermatitis, and it may be caused by various sources. Rashes like those from poison ivy or poison oak are good examples. They may give you hot, red, puffy skin and severe burning and itching.
Ask your dermatologist to make sure you don’t have allergies to the neoprene used in wetsuits. If you already are experiencing symptoms, treatment may include topical or injectable steroids like prednisone.
Several common types of eczema occur frequently after repeated immersion, if you allow your skin to dry without properly moisturizing it. The common symptoms include itchy, flaking, dry skin. Tropical climates may cause worse symptoms, like red rashes and red bumps.
To prevent eczema, according Dr. Diane Walder, MD of http://dianewaldermd.com/dr-diane-walder.asp, moisturize your skin after diving, and use mild soap. Prevention is much preferable to treatment, since salt and sun rob your skin of surface oils.
Moist and humid conditions like those you find in a wetsuit may cause a flare-up of fungal infections. This is especially true if you are prone to jock itch or athlete’s foot. Fungal infections can often be avoided by drying off as soon as you can, by showering after diving and by using topical creams and powders with antifungal properties.
If you still have persistent symptoms, which may include red, scaly skin, itching and burning, seek prompt medical attention. Oral antifungal treatment works well. Always keep your wetsuit and diving equipment clean, to prevent future fungal problems.
This is commonly known as a yeast infection. It loves places in the body that are dark and moist. Yeasts are present inside and on our bodies, but they may grow too quickly under moist, warm conditions. If you develop these hot, red, itchy patches, seek treatment. It’s better to prevent it, if you can. This can be done by practicing good hygiene and by using topical antifungals. In addition, always make sure that you are thoroughly dry after you dive.
This is brought on by constant humidity and heat, combined with blockages of sweat glands. It looks like beads of sweat, but these are blisters under your skin. If you cool off after you remove your wetsuit, this condition may go away by itself. If prickly heat is combined with any other dermatological issues, it may worsen.
This is a great reason not to touch coral. Even slightly brushing up against coral can cause a sting. Inflammation, swelling, reddening and weeping skin must be immediately treated. If you have a reaction after you are exposed to coral, watch your symptoms. If they do not abate after a day to a day and a half, check with your dermatologist for treatment.
The beauty with going green is that it can be a very good way to combine so many things and come up with a work of art, so to speak!
Below are some gardening tips that will utilize your zeal for gardening and combine it with the urge to recycle to help protect our earth and clean water. The results are, well, try them and see for yourself!
These are very good for a raised garden where you plant things like bunching pansies. Other flowers can also look very cute when grown in tires, especially if you paint the tires in very brilliant colors that combine well with the colors of the plants in them.
You can even go all out and have several bright colors on several tires having the same plants. Your front yard will be the envy of all in the neighborhood.
Every home will have lots of cans from many of the groceries they use. Instead of having a headache thinking of how to dispose of them all, make them a permanent part of your home by growing herbs or flowers in them.
You can get your kids involved by giving them carte blanche to paint them in any way that they think will look attractive around the house.You can then hang these cans around the house and bask in the fresh plants that will be a feature of your living space.
The kids will also catch the gardening bug and that will be one of the best things you can do for them as a parent since they will grow up loving to consume what they have grown themselves.
Take Away Packaging.
Do you want to feel less guilty about consuming all that take away? Do so by using those waterproof containers as places in which to plant a few herbs or flowers.
The unique use to which you put that “garbage” will be so novel that what you plant in there will be all the more beautiful. It is possible that you will not tire just standing there to gaze at how useful those take away containers have become.
This is the time to stop looking at cinder blocks as a nuisance when you renovate your home. Put them to use as containers where lots of plants can be grown in your yard.
You can even pile them one on top of the other with each containing a different type of plant. This may end up sparking off a rush by other people to gather all the cinder blocks in the neighborhood so that they can also do what you have done.
The beauty of this kind of gardening is that you can do it in your spare time after work, or help you stay busy if you are recovering and need to take it easy. In fact, I need to thank my friend Sarah, who came up with many of these ideas while she was recovering from a procedure like this performed by Dr. Todd Hobgood. She’s always loved gardening and decided to get in touch with her creativity while she spent a month recuperating. Thanks, Sarah!
There are very many people that are into snorkeling or scuba diving. While this activity can be very exciting, it has the potential to be very harmful to the environment if care isn’t taken as you dive.
Here are a few things that you can do to protect the environment as you dive so that aquatic systems are not adversely affected by your leisure activities.
Avoid Bumping Into Anything
The underwater world is extremely delicate and a lot of damage can be done by your camera bumping against something down there. It is therefore very important that you dive very carefully and limit what you touch or even graze a hand on. You will have played your part in keeping the ecosystem intact.
Hone Your Dive Skills Constantly
The best way to dive in a green way is to dive correctly. That calls for taking refresher lessons or improving your diving skills so that once you get into the water, you are very competent to do it well.
You can practice in a swimming pool under the guidance of a dive instructor so that any bumps that occur in there have no impact as would be the case if you were in the ocean. Once you are sure that you are on top of your game, you can then get into the sea or ocean.
Respect Underwater Heritage
The bottom of the sea has a lot of cultural heritage that it plays host to. An example is shipwrecks that are still lying down there. They are not only of historical significance but also act as habitats for marine life. Many underwater creatures for instance use them as breeding grounds.
When you are aware of this heritage, you will respect all that you come across underwater and will not try to tamper with anything. When you do that, those systems will remain intact for other divers to come and enjoy as well.
Report Underwater Destruction Or Disturbances
Divers have a ringside view of all that takes place in underwater ecosystems. When you are on a dive and you see something untoward regarding what should be there, immediately report it. It could be that you have spotted something dumped there or an entangled whale struggling to free itself. Whatever it is, report it as soon as possible so that appropriate action is taken.
Be a “Green” Role Model
As someone who loves diving, you should have absolute respect for the environment in all you do. Don’t litter. Don’t use unnecessary greenhouse gas emitting gadgets unless it is totally unavoidable. Let others learn from you.
You should also be conscious of what you take with you on your dive, including what will remain in the boat, to show others that you care about the environment. Bring only the essentials, and make sure you bring something sealable for waste and trash so it doesn’t blow into the water. It’s a good idea to bring some healthy snacks for before the dive, and a sealed bag with personal belongings, including medication, a cell phone and other items.
Don’t underestimate how easy it is to unintentionally litter by not being careful on the boat! I recently went out on a boat ride with a woman who had recently undergone a breast augmentation procedure by Boston surgeon Dr. Davidson. She had medication on the boat but she wasn’t careful and accidently left it open. It blew over and dumped into the water!
Preserving the environment starts with protecting your wellbeing. You should therefore only dive when you are in no danger of coming to harm.
In its Year Book that was recently launched, the United Nations Environment Program has revealed that the damage from plastics to marine ecosystems can conservatively be estimated to be in the region of US $13 billion each year.
If nothing is done to stem such a huge impact, the damage could spiral out of control and entire ecosystems will get wiped out. How do plastics wreak such havoc?
Picture a group of tourists on a hike through a jungle. They will be carrying bottled water and as each bottle gets depleted, the empty plastic bottle will be dropped to the ground without a second thought.
These scenes are replayed wherever tourists abound and it is such plastics that eventually make their way into our oceans, causing untold damage.
Poorly Managed Landfills.
Most of the plastic waste generated in communities ends up being dumped in landfills. If those landfills are not properly managed, the plastics will be moved either by flood water or by wind to locations far off. Eventually they will end up in our oceans and they will accumulate to huge quantities in there.
While fishermen are out at sea, they pay no attention to the proper handling of the waste plastics that they generate while on board.
Well, some fishing boats may have a policy of not dumping any wastes into the ocean, it is probable that such boats are in the minority.
As a result, tons of plastics get dumped into the water each year from fishing vessels that roam the high seas surrounding our countries and continents.
What Are The Effects Of These Plastics?
Marine life has been killed when plastics are ingested. Fish, dolphins, turtles and other seafaring creatures die or fall seriously ill when plastics get into their digestive systems.
Entanglement is another danger that marine life has to grapple with in the face of so many plastic products in the water. Whales and dolphins particularly fall victim to this as they roam the waters that they once called home but have now become veritable deathtraps.
Very fragile habitats like coral reefs are getting destroyed by these plastics that are accumulating at a very high rate. Thus, the rate at which coral is getting killed is very high and entire reefs are likely to get wiped out if nothing is done to stop this carnage.
What Can Be Done?
Dr. Nathan E. Nachlas who conducts facelift surgery in Boca Raton, says plastics play several roles in modern life but the time has come to phase them out. Several measures can help.
One way to check this damage is to reduce how many plastic products get into circulation. It is possible and some countries have for instance banned the manufacture of plastic bags. Such measures can be pivotal in saving our oceans.
Another way can be to step up recycling so that very little of what is currently used gets dumped. This will save the environment and also create lots of jobs for people working at all levels of the recycling chain.
Incineration is another bad practice that churns greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It should be discouraged or cut back so that other measures can be introduced to destroy plastics.
There is nothing as bad as looking forward to the sights during your next dive and when you are in the water you end up spending most of your time trying to stop your dive mask from flooding.
Such an occurrence will detract you from enjoying the dive so in order to forestall it from happening ensure that you fit your mask well. The tips below can help you do just that.
Press The Mask To Your Face
Using light pressure, press the mask to your face. A properly fitting mask will hold onto your entire face at the same time and that will assure you that there will be no leakage while you are underwater.
Check The Skirt
A good mask for you should have no space anywhere on the skirt while it is on your face. The presence of space is an open door for water to come in while you dive so make sure that there is no space in the skirt when the mask is on.
Inhale lightly and let go of the mask. If it stays in place without you having to hold it onto your face, then it is a right fit for you. If it doesn’t, leave it and try on another one.
This test is very good because a mask that can only stay on the face when you keep inhaling to maintain the vacuum in it has places where air is sneaking in, and that means water will get in once you dive.
Look In A Mirror
With the mask in place, walk to a mirror and see whether or not the nose pocket is touching the lower part of your nose. If it is, that means that the mask is a little too small for you. Leave it and try on another one.
You should also look at the lower skirt of the mask relative to your lower lip. If it is touching it, then that mask may be too long for you. In that case, pick another one until you are satisfied that all is well.
When NOT To Fit a Mask
Equally important is your timing when you fit the dive mask. You need to know when it isn’t right for you to fit the mask and wait when conditions are favorable.
Dr. Shervin Naderi, who carries out rhinoplasty in Virginia, told me, “You should never fit a mask when they have just had nose surgery or are planning to undergo surgery such a procedure. The same applies when they have had some injury to the nose or are recovering from one.”
The reason here is that your nose will not be in its usual size or shape so you will get a false impression that the mask is an exact fit when it isn’t.
It may look like you are devoting too much time to getting the right mask fit but that effort will be rewarded when you get into the water and aren’t disturbed by having to struggle to keep the mask from filling up with water. You will fully enjoy the dive.
You are looking into blue skies and ready to slip into warm seas to dive. Stop for a moment and consider any medical reasons that might make diving unwise at this time.
When these conditions present themselves, and you are enthusiastic about the next dive, it may be difficult to take a step back and make sure that your recent medical issues will not affect your decision to dive.
Lung Problems May Limit Your Diving
Diving creates changes in your volume of air intake and output, so any conditions that cause restriction in air from the lungs mean no diving. Weakness of the lung structures also disallows diving. This may include severe asthma, large air sacs, COPD or a history of some types of surgery to the lung.
Pregnancy and Diving Don’t Mix
The problems with diving while pregnant are conflicting. Women have been diving very early in pregnancy, before they even hew that they were pregnant. It appears that no harm came from this. Animal studies have shown that sometimes bubbles crossed the placenta, posing potential fetal harm. Physicians will not take a risk by allowing pregnant women to dive; there are too many potential risks.
Recent Plastic Surgery Procedures Affect Your Diving
Every surgery and procedure is different, and will cause a different impact on your ability to dive safely.
The time you must wait to dive after surgery depends on what procedure you have done, according to Dr. Andrew Jacono, MD of http://newyorkfacialplasticsurgery.com.
Minimally invasive procedures may not pose a great risk to diving. On the other hand, invasive surgeries, especially under general anesthesia, may present a greater risk for those who want to go diving.
Epilepsy Is Highly Contraindicated
This is usually regarded as the most serious contraindication. If someone has a seizure while diving, the result would be a drowning death. The only way a person with epilepsy might be allowed to dive is if they have been seizure-free for a period of many years, and have not needed medication for over five years.
Head Injuries Are Dangerous for Divers
If you have experienced a severe head injury, you may not be able to dive. It does not matter whether the cause was an event like a stroke, or an external trauma. This type of head injury is usually associated with damage to the memory and to brain tissue. This injury may also be a factor in an increased risk for epilepsy. If it has been years since your injury, you may speak to your physician about your ability to dive safely.
Heart Disease Makes Diving Dangerous
People with severe heart disease should not consider diving, in most cases. The list would include holes in the heart, congenital heart defects and serious valve problems. Serious ischemic heart disease is also not compatible with diving, unless it is fully controlled. Residual heart problems that result from heart attacks may also be problematic. Any type of unusual heart rhythm in the heart that could cause blackouts or collapse would indicate not taking a chance on diving.
If you want to dive but have any medical conditions, always check first with your physician, to be sure that diving is safe for you.
Plastic water bottles and plastic grocery bags are two of the biggest sources of litter and water contamination from consumers, but many towns and cities across the United States have been making efforts to ban their use. Back in March, San Francisco became the first major city in the United States to ban plastic water bottles.
San Francisco’s Ban
I read about the ban about a month ago from Dr. Mounsey on Facebook, who is a Toronto revision nose surgeon who seems to have some real concern about the environment and often posts about green living. I thought you’d like to hear about this, too.
San Francisco has not banned plastic water bottles completely, but it has banned the sale of the bottles on public property, which will hopefully lead a nationwide effort to curb this massive amount of waste. There were many challenges that the city had to deal with to get this bill passed, including its impact on major events like the Folsom Street Fair and nonprofit events that often rely on the sale of bottled water.
Over the next four years, the new bill will phase out the sale of plastic water bottles that hold 21 ounces and less on all city property, which will have an impact on many businesses, but will help keep San Francisco litter-free with clean drinking water.
San Francisco is aiming for zero waste going to its landfill by 2020, and it’s well on its way, with a diversion rate now at 80%. The city has also previously banned plastic bags and plastic foam containers.
What are Other Cities Doing?
San Francisco’s ban is great news, but it’s actually less strict than many prohibitions passed in 14 national parks, several universities and Concord, Massachusetts. Last year, Concord became the first town in the United States to prohibit the usage of plastic water bottles. The campaign there was led by Jean Hill, a woman who said, “All these discarded bottles are damaging our planet, causing clumps of garbage in the oceans that hurt fish, and are creating more pollution on our streets.”
In Cord, there is no a ban on the sale of regular drinking water in single-serving plastic bottles that are 1 liter or smaller in size.
Plastics in the Ocean are Impacting Everyone
Plastic water bottles, along with other plastics that we use every day, end up in the ocean when they are carelessly tossed in a park, trash can or at the beach. Over 2 million plastic drink bottles are used every 5 minutes in this country, and only abut 10% are recycled. The rest end up in the oceans or the landfill, where they leak toxic chemicals into our water supply.
In the North Pacific resides the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located in a region with a high pressure zone and a huge spiraling vortex of warm air where several major sea currents converge. It’s here that all of the plastic and debris in our ocean eventually ends up. Plastic does not biodegrade, but it does photodegrade, which means long exposure to sunlight causes it to break into smaller and smaller pieces. In the Garbage Patch, plastic particles outnumber plankton 6-1, and 80% of the plastic there was originally discarded on land.
Plastic kills over one million seabirds every year and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles, killing by choking, clogging digestive tracts and entanglement. If you think this isn’t important, just consider this: the fish we eat have very likely ingested contaminated plastic in the ocean. That means nature can’t even produce organic fish any longer! It’s great to see cities like San Francisco and Concord taking a stand to make a difference.
Nothing has been wreaking havoc in terms of garbage disposal like plastics. They seem to be literary everywhere, including on our oceans and seas.
Plastics are very hard to get rid of without simply recycling them. This is because they are not biodegradable, at least before recent discoveries in the waters off the Australian coastline. Scientists there seem to have across micro-organisms that are feeding on floating plastic, or at least getting it to sink to the ocean floor, leaving the ocean cleaner.
Who Conducted This Study?
A group of researchers from the University of Western Australia have been credited with publishing their findings that could potentially provide insights into this hitherto unheard of phenomenon of plastics being eaten by some organisms.
What Did They Find?
The researchers took thousands of pictures showing that there were colonies of micro-organisms living on bits of plastic that were floating on the surface of the ocean. This had the effect of making many of those segments of plastic to sink to the ocean floor, with the outcome of leaving the ocean cleaner than it was when it had so much plastic floating on its surface.
Initial findings also seem to point to the presence of microbes that may be “feeding” on plastics from off the surface of the ocean. This is yet to be confirmed.
What Are The Implications Of The Findings?
This research could offer new ways of dealing with the disposal of solid waste on land since all measures so far used were based on the thinking that plastic could not be consumed by any organisms.
There needs to be an investigation into the effects that are resulting from those microbes “ingesting” plastics. It may look like the microbes are feeding on those substances but is it sustainable and without negative effects?
Some people may ride on the initial findings of this study to dump more plastics on the high seas under the mistaken belief that there is a “cleaning crew” in operation out there to remove their mess from the surface of the ocean.
It is not clear what impact the sunken bits of plastic can have on the ocean floor, but it is not far-fetched to anticipate some negative effects on the ecosystems there since as it is already known, plastic doesn’t degenerate easily. Ocean beds could eventually become clogged with these plastics.
Summing it up…
There is massive excitement generated by this study. It remains to be seen what additions will be made to the current body of knowledge in our understanding of how various microbes interact with plastics and if that can be of benefit to us.
As I was recently told by Dr. Alexander Donath, a plastic surgeon specializing in Liposonix who has become very vocal about the importance of recycling in the medical field, “The world has become very dependent on plastic over the last century, and now we are left battling with how to get rid of all of this plastic that has been produced and tossed in the trash.”
Is it possible for all land and the seas to be free of plastics? Some microbes off the Aussie shores may shed some light on that.