Ocean fearsTwo Hands can’t put a figure on how much rubbish there is.

But the City Environmental Services Department collects around 900 tonnes of garbage from the various beaches and foreshores in the course of a year. That is just the rubbish that is washed up.

Old bicycles at the bottom of Sydney HarbourDivers have found all kinds of objects under water

But there is no systematic programme to scoop up the trash that lies beneath the surface.

„They certainly help with their official clean-ups, but no-one is really tackling the sources of the problem, the people who drop litter on streets far from the harbour, or those who deliberately jettison their rubbish into rivers and streams that feed into the harbour,” says Silke Stuckenbrook, another committed campaigner from Two Hands.

The group says the problem goes further than the harbour, literally.

The rubbish is transported by the tides within the estuary, but then it is sucked up into the currents of the Pacific Ocean, which lies beyond the harbour entrance.

„That means it’s taken away from Australia, past New Zealand, across thousands of kilometres of open ocean”, Dean Cropp says.

Migrating rubbishThe thought of a mass of migrating rubbish spewing out into the world’s oceans is one that disturbs environmentalists far beyond the shores of Australia.

In fact one such giant clump of waste has already amassed itself in the Pacific, frustrating oceanographers for years.

It’s in the Northern Pacific and even has its own name.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is what marine scientists call this rotating collection of ocean-borne rubbish.

Deep sea divers picking trash underwaterDivers were able to fill two sacks of waste in just 12 minutes

The patch has exceptionally high concentrations of plastics, chemical sludge and other debris trapped by the currents.

It’s not all fuelled by the products of Sydney Harbour and nor is Sydney alone in having such an underwater problem.

But the city’s shame has been exposed by the endeavours of the environmentalists, who believe all leaders should take responsibility for what’s happening.

„Just because this stuff is out of sight under water doesn’t mean we can ignore it,” Mr Cropp says.

To underline his point, Dean shows us one of his most telling under water images.

It’s a solitary piece of floating plastic tape, the kind which you see police, ambulance or the fire service put up around accidents to keep the public out.

No doubt it was discarded without malice and with little thought given to its final destination.

But, to Dean, the one word printed on it, serves as an aquatic metaphor for how the world should treat the issue of marine pollution.

The word? CAUTION.



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