JAKARTA — Footage of a vast plastic ‘slick’ shot by a British diver off the coast of Bali has put renewed focus on the growing threat of ocean pollution.
Rich Horner filmed himself swimming through swathes of plastic rubbish floating in turquoise waters around 15 miles offshore from Denpasar, the Balinese regional capital.
The footage is being seen as a warning over increasingly toxic levels of plastic waste along some of the most picturesque shorelines of Indonesia, which is hoping to expand its tourism industry.
“Plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic cups, plastic sheets, plastic buckets, plastic sachets, plastic straws, plastic baskets, plastic bags, more plastic bags,” Horner wrote, in a detailed caption posted on Facebook with his two and a half minute video.
Mr Horner, who studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Brighton and lives in Bali, a popular Indonesian holiday island, saw his post shared more 16,000 times.
Plastic debris is regarded a particular threat to some whales and fish such as manta rays. It can break down in the water and enter the food chain once filter feeders swallow huge mouthfuls of water, intending to sieve tiny prey such as plankton but also unwittingly ingesting tiny plastic particles. Mr Horner filmed himself swimming above a manta ray, which appeared to be keeping itself below the plastic bobbing near the surface.
Last year Bali received nearly 5.7 million tourists, according to the regional government. Mr Horner’s clip comes less than three months after local officials declared a “garbage emergency” in response to the covering of 3.6 mile stretch of coastline in plastic waste brought in by the tide, amid concerns that the pollution could dissuade visitors from returning.
Indonesia is one of the world’s worst plastic polluters, with some estimates suggesting that the 260 million-population, 3,000-mile-wide, 17,000-island archipelago is the source of around 10 per cent of the world’s plastic waste. Indonesia’s capital city Jakarta features several huge rubbish dumps and it is common to see swathes of plastics bobbing on the city’s few waterways.
However Western countries have been “offshoring” their plastic pollution to Asia. China recently banned the import of what had become a seven million ton per year trade in plastic rubbish, leading to fears that smaller Southeast Asian countries could step in, adding to their growing waste problem.
Anything between 10 and 20 million tons of plastic dumped into the world’s oceans each year, a deluge that threatens to turn the oceans into a “toxic soup,” according to Sir David Attenborough. His recent Blue Planet II TV series featured shocking footage of the impact of plastic waste on marine life — including in the deaths of dolphins and albatrosses. Sir David said the series’ film crews found plastic floating “in every ocean.”Show