SYDNEY — These shocking images show the amount of plastic rubbish, discarded by Australians, destroying Australia's beautiful coastline.
A CSIRO report released on Monday, details the surveying of sites every 100km along the Australian coastline.
Scientist Denise Hardesty, who was involved in the three-year research program, said three-quarters of the rubbish found is plastic from Australian sources, not from high seas, and is concentrated near city areas.
Hardesty told Mashable she feels "saddened and disheartened" about the current situation and the way it reflects on us as a species.
"No other species has the ability to have such an impact on their environment as do we humans, and with that comes a responsibility which I don’t think we treat with the best or most appropriate care," she said.
The density of plastic in Australian waters ranges from a few thousand pieces of plastic per square kilometre to more than 40,000 pieces.
“Approximately one third of marine turtles around the world have likely ingested debris, and this has increased since plastic production began in the 1950s,” Hardesty said. “We also estimate that between 5,000 and 15,000 turtles have been killed in the Gulf of Carpentaria after becoming ensnared by derelict fishing nets mostly originating from overseas.”
Marine debris found along the coast includes glass, plastic bottles, cans, rubber, metal, fiberglass, cigarettes and all kinds of manufacturerd matierials. These can destroy coral reefs, harm wildlife along with posing a threat to human health.
Hardesty said Australians can help in their every day lives by making smarter decisions about the products they purchase. Such as avoiding products which contain plastic microbeads, which are in many types of toothpaste and personal care products.
"We can shop smart, bring our own bags, bring a go cup with you when you get a coffee and try to avoid single use containers," she said. "We can be mindful in our choices, teach the next generation, pick up litter and create an improved social consciousness in our communities where littering isn’t acceptable."
The Tasman Sea off the south of Australia is a global hotspot where a large number of seabirds are affected by the garbage.
“We found that 43 per cent of seabirds have plastic in their gut. Globally, nearly half of all seabird species are likely to ingest debris, eating everything from balloons to glow sticks, industrial plastic pellets, rubber, foam and string,” Hardesty said.
She said it was shocking to open a bird's stomach and find a glow stick, toy or a cigarette lighter inside.
"It is very confronting for me personally and it speaks volumes about the affects our rubbish has on wildlife," she said.
The study allows the CSIRO to gather information in helping identify hotspots of debris, so they can come up with a solution to deal with the high amount of marine debris washing up on ours shores.
It is part of a national research and education program, TeachWild, developed by Earthwatch Australia in partnership with CSIRO and Shell Australia’s National Social Investment Program.
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