Maddie took this photo of a Portuguese Man-O-War while we were crossing the Atlantic Ocean. This photo was taken at approximately 35 degrees North and 35 degrees West, so pretty much in the middle of the ocean!
We were having a series of becalmed days and the surface of the ocean became smooth as glass. On the surface of the water, we noticed this fine dusting that extended all the way out to the horizon. While this photo is of the Man-O-War, the dusting surrounding it is very evident.
Sadly, this dusting is not volcanic ash, pollen, or Saharan desert dust, instead it is tiny pieces of plastic that have been broken down into microscopic pieces. Large pieces of plastic that wash out to sea will break down into tiny pieces as the sun beats down on them. A small water bottle can pulverize into enough micro plastic components to cover miles of ocean surface.
When I lived aboard in Baltimore, Maryland i the Inner Harbor, it would pain me to see plastic trash that was flushed into the harbor from the city. I used to collect the pieces of plastic that were in reach from the pier, but for every piece of plastic I would collect, more than a dozen would wash out into the Chesapeake Bay.
The bay then drains out into the Atlantic Ocean where the plastic trash gets picked up the ocean currents and swept way out into the ocean. Over the years, the plastic trash will brake down and eventually turn into this micro plastic dust that covers the ocean.
Sadly, as of yet, there is no clear way to remove all the plastic debris that is floating in the worlds oceans, but hopefully someone far more intelligent than I can become inspired to inventing a solution that will help reverse the terrible things humanity has done to the worlds oceans.
In the meantime, we can all help to reduce how much plastic makes it out into the ocean. Something as small as not using a plastic bag from the grocery store or drinking out of the cup instead of using a plastic straw. It may seem like a small contribution, but that tiny plastic device that you were about to use once and for a few minutes is the equivalent of miles of ocean surface that is covered with plastic.