Great Pacific Garbage Patch
A presentation by Stephen Smith to the Rotary Club of Woolgoolga, 17 September 2012
Wow! This was a presentation everyone should hear. Marine biologist Stephen Smith took us through the major issue of marine debris compounding itself off our coastline and beyond. The floating island of debris brought together by currents in the northern Pacific (the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) is now the size of Queensland, 10 metres deep and weighs 100 million tonnes. In short, it is too big to do anything about...where else would you put it? Most of this rubbish is plastics which don’t biodegrade but often photo-degrade into small pieces causing even greater damage to bird and sea life. It takes 450 years for a plastic bottle to degrade—even disposable nappies take several years.
Organisms are eating the plastic and suffering from toxins or simply having their gut compacted until they can no longer function. A further 8 million items go into the sea every day. The environmental, human health and economic costs of all of the damage is horrendous not to mention problems caused for shipping, fishing industries, food supply, tourism etc. Not our problem?...wrong! A turtle recently washed up dead near Ballina with 300 pieces of plastic in its gut and at Charlesworth Bay, a little local Coffs Harbour beach only 350 metres long, researchers have collected 40,000 items every few weeks as the tides and water uncover items buried in the sand.
With over 300 recorded bird species, Coffs Coast is a veritable bird lovers’ paradise.
Coffs Coast’s many national parks, state forests, reserves, bushland and coastal dunes are all excellent places to go bird watching. Among the many species you may spot or hear are brush-turkeys, catbirds, egrets, ospreys, sea eagles, little terns, many types of honeyeaters, jacanas, wompoos, lyrebirds, noisy pittas, logrunners, lorikeets, pied and sooty oystercatchers, whipbirds, bowerbirds, cuckoos and boobook owls.
The Macaulay Library (Cornell Lab of Ornithology, New York) is the world's largest and oldest scientific archive of biodiversity audio and video recordings. Listen to the sounds of humpback whales, yellow-tail black-cockatoos, kangaroos, ...