Shocking images have captured a Caribbean island’s clear blue seas being choked by a tide of plastic rubbish.
Taken off the Honduran island of Roatán, the pictures show plastic cutlery, bags, bottles and wrapping floating among seaweed.
One picture, taken from below the waterline, shows the sun being blocked out by the sheer weight of the pollution dumped into the ocean.
Blue Planet Society, a pressure group that campaigns to save the world’s oceans, had suggested the plastic may have originated from the Montagua river in Guatemala. Recent footage captured a torrent of waste being carried out to sea from its mouth.
The sight disgusted photographer Caroline Power, who lives on Roatán, which is just 12 miles long and three miles wide. Power shared the images on social media to raise awareness of the problem. She said it should make people think carefully about their plastic use.
“Think about your daily lives,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “How did you take your food to go last time you ate out? How was your last street food served? Chances are it was Styrofoam and served with a plastic fork and then put in a plastic bag.”
“Do you still use plastic garbage bags? Plastic soda bottles? Zip lock bags? Plastic wrap on your food? Do you buy toilet paper that comes wrapped in plastic instead of paper? Do you put your fruit and vegetables in produce bags at the grocery?”
Challenging everyone to keep their rubbish for a week, she said people would be “disgusted” at how much plastic they would find.
More than eight million tonnes of plastic goes into the oceans every year, and it is estimated there will be more of it than fish by 2050. It is thought our seas now contain about 51 trillion microplastic particles – 500 times more than stars in our galaxy.
This pollution is harming more than 600 species worldwide amid what many are now regarding as the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth.
John Hourston, of the Blue Planet Society, said it was the worst example of plastic pollution he has seen. He pointed out that plastic gets broken down into microscopic particles that enter the food chain when plankton and fish eat them.
He added: ‘It is thought that 90 per cent of sea birds have ingested some sort of plastic, and there are many examples of turtles and whales mistaking plastic for food. We all have a part to play in reducing plastic waste but manufacturers and government need to take the lead. It’s a global problem that needs a global solution.’
The Daily Mail has long campaigned to end the scourge of dumped plastic. The ‘Banish the Bags’ campaign led to a huge reduction in single-use plastic bags at supermarkets, and now they are calling for a deposit scheme on plastic bottles. In a major victory for their ‘Ban The Beads’ campaign, last year UK ministers pledged to outlaw toxic microbeads that are poisoning our seas.
By Tom Embury-Dennis and Xantha Leatham