Sun, Jul

Litter such as plastic detergent bottles, crates, buoys, combs, and water bottles blanket Kanapou Bay, on the Island of Kaho'olawe in Hawaii. This region is a hot-spot for marine debris accumulation. Because of its remote location, removal is difficult, resulting in beaches that look more like a landfill. Photo courtesty of the NOAA Debris Removal Program.


This is Our Home

On August 10, 6:30 p.m., after a long swim by the Maui Kaanapali Villas, I walked along the beach to the public parking lot. Adjacent to the Maui Kaanapali Villas, two girls were taking pictures of themselves while hitting golf balls out into our oceans.



I couldn’t believe this and wanted to say something, but I was afraid I would not be able to hold myself back in a proper intelligent manner as to their ignorance. So, frustrated, I continued on and took this dilemma home with me.

Early the next morning, I once again went for my swim by the Maui Kaanapali Villas. About 50 yards from the beach, I nearly swam into a Green Sea Turtle lying on the surface dead. It had choked on two golf balls. One protruded from its throat and the other still remained in its mouth. I draped my arm over its shell and cried.

Choking on Plastic

A few years ago, I crewed on a sailboat from Maui to the Pacific Northwest. It was the third time we had sailed through the North Pacific Convergence zone, which lies about 1000 miles off the coast of Seattle and is now twice the size of Texas. For nearly 14 hours we sailed through nothing but plastic.

This plastic does not just remain on the surface of the ocean. After a lecture presentation I gave at the Whale Museum in the San Juan Islands some years ago, I was approached by several marine biologist that told me of a beached Gray Whale upon which they were going to perform an autopsy. I was invited to join them, if I wished. When they cut the stomach open, hundreds of pounds of plastic, rope, flowerpots, etc. poured onto the beach.

Cheap Plastic, Big Cost

Trade winds fill into the shoreline and people watch their plastic inner tubes float away. I quickly put on my fins and try to retrieve this plastic tube before it gets to far into the trades. After retrieving the inner tube, the reply I get is “Why did you go after it, they only cost $4.00.”

I walk away with heartfelt tears.

Out of Sight-Out of Mind

When I see people walking away, leaving their plastic and bottles on the beach, I politely say, “Folks, please pick up your trash.”

They look at me and say, “If it bothers you, you pick it up.”

And I do pick it up, for life is too short to be frustrated over ignorance. We walk by trash as if it isn’t ours, but it belongs to all of humanity. Personally, I don’t believe any bird, turtule, or mongoose left it there.

Our home goes beyond the four walls of which we live. Our home is this planet. Human beings have left our footprints from the top of the world to the bottom of the sea, but we cannot live alone. We must live in balance.

We are only one out of millions of species that roam this planet. Yet, we alone pat ourselves on the back and label ourselves intelligent.

What would this world be without the blow of the whale, the songs of birds, or the buzzing of bees to pollinate? There simply would be no world; for we cannot live alone, as all life is connected. Anyone that does not understand this is a fool, cut off from the essense life itself.

Find out what you can do to reduce marine debris, here.

Me Ke Aloha Pumehana
With Warm Aloha

Richard Roshon is an author, lecturer, and kayak entreoeneur. He can be reached at www.hawaiiwhalesrus.com.

Watch a video about the how community of Molokai is fighting back against plastic pollution taking over its coastline, here. Video shot by Jeff Hawe and Justin Turkowski and edited by Oiwi TV. Shared here courtesy of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.


By: Richard Roshon


ecoCURRENTS is a joint initiative between ECO and select universities that benefits science students by recruiting them to summarize the latest marine science research and providing them with published bylines. We also cover items of interest to environmental practitioners, such as citizen science, community engagement, the arts, and human-interest stories.

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