Marine debris

We all want to enjoy clean beaches, however every beach, no matter how remote, will always have trash littering its shoreline. This debris is not only unsightly and potentially dangerous for us, it is also deadly for marine animals. Marine debris is defined as trash or other solid material which enters oceans and often washes up on beaches. Data collected from 10 years of beach clean-ups indicated that 80% of this debris comes from land-based sources.

Marine debris is estimated to affect 270 species worldwide, including 85% of all sea turtle species, 45% of all sea bird species, and 45% of marine mammal species. Ways this debris affects marine animals include ingestion, where they consume plastic bags, cigarette butts, and bottle cap, resulting in malnutrition or even starvation. Suffocation can also occur from plastic bags or plastic six pack holders, blocking passageways. Also entanglement can occur when common items like fishing line, strapping bands and six-pack rings impede the mobility of marine animals. Once entangled, animals have trouble eating, breathing or swimming, all of which can have fatal results

Marine debris is a symptom of a much larger water pollution problem caused by our everyday consumer lifestyle. Recognizing your role as part of the problem is the first step towards finding a solution. There are some basic lifestyle changes YOU can make including purchasing products with little or no packaging, and products made from recycled materials. By reducing the amount of waste created by reusing bags at the grocery store, reusing containers such as yoghurt pots or meat packs as Tupperware containers rather than using disposable materials, or reusing your beverage containers at coffee shops, bars, smoothie bars, rather than getting Styrofoam or plastic cups. You can also ensure that your trash is properly disposed of and that organic matter is used for compost. Finally you can recycle as much as possible and ensure that it is correctly removed. By spreading the word and making a conscientious effort to reduce your personal waste, our beaches could be that bit safer for us and the animals.

4 Responses to “Marine debris”

  1. Mark Scherr Says:

    I just returned from a trip to Roatan and while the diving and reefs were beautiful, I have never seen trash in the ocean like we experienced there. I am told this is an unusual event and that the trash likely came from the mainland. What steps are being made to help stem the amount of trash that is thrown into Honduran rivers? I realize Honduras is a very poor country but there has to be a better way.

  2. Will Says:

    Hi Mark,

    First, I am not in any way affiliated with the Marine Park, do not live on the island, and to be quite honest, have never been to the island. With that said, I was wondering if you were also able to make a donation with your comments above? If you have, thank you! If not, why make the comment…


  3. Amanda Hughes Says:

    It’s such a shame to hear that Mark. Though l am not totally supprised.

    My husband and l first learnt to dive in Roatan, and it was an absolutely stunningly beautiful and fairly pristine island then, as this was well over 23 years ago now.

    We rode horses along the beach and stayed at a ramshackle but wonderful establishment called Jimmy’s for a month!.

    We went diving nearly every day and walked around the whole island. There was no rubbish on the beaches or anywhere else. We didn’t need to clutch a plastic bottle of water as we went about exploring…one didn’t then. We carried refillable strong metal camping water bottles if at all.

    It’s such a shame when folks, Honduran and otherwise throw away their plastic rubbish, that they don’t give a little thought as to where this rubbish may eventually end up.

    I’m afraid that lots and lots of stunning places we went to over 20 years ago are all suffering from this blight. Not to mention the poor marine life. Ahhh humans, very smart and incredibly stupid also at our own peril….

  4. cyan kyor Says:

    i recently returned from a trip to roatan. after one of the snorkeling stops, lunch was served. a trash receptacle was not provided. instead, the group was instructed to throw our food scraps into the water, almost on top of the coral reefs. is this normal practice?

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