News / USA

Trashed Oceans Threaten Marine Life

Volunteers remove 3.5 million kilos of trash from ocean beaches, rivers and other waterways worldwide

Volunteers participating in the International Coastal Cleanup collect litter in the Anacostia area of Washington, DC.
Volunteers participating in the International Coastal Cleanup collect litter in the Anacostia area of Washington, DC.
Faiza Elmasry

Last September, more than 600,000 volunteers from all over the world participated in International Coastal Cleanup Day. According to a report released recently, they removed more than 3.5 million kilos of trash from ocean beaches, rivers and other waterways worldwide, enough to cover 170 football fields. They collected enough tires to outfit almost 6,000 cars, and enough cigarette butts to fill nearly 95,000 packs.

Talking trash

The report is called "Tracking Trash: 25 Years of Action for the Ocean." It contains data and stories about the trash that volunteers collected during last year's International Coastal Cleanup Day.

The annual event is organized by the advocacy group, Ocean Conservancy. Plastic bottles, bags, cigarette butts and other trash are clogging the oceans and killing marine mammals and sea turtles every year, according to Vikki Spruill, the group's president.

"Earth, as we know it, is a water planet," says Spruill. "If you look from outer space, you see blue before you see the land. It’s all connected. The ocean is the system that actually provides the rain water that we all depend on in our life. Half of the oxygen in the next breath you’re going to take comes from the oceans."

Watch silent video of clean up:

Luckily, she says, thousands of people from more than 120 countries and all 50 U.S. states care enough to volunteer every year for clean ups of the planet's waterways, beaches and ocean fronts.

"We have students, school kids, scout troops, stay-at-home mothers. We have military leaders, every imaginable walk of life, participating in these cleanups."

International effort

One of those volunteers is Oscar Oviedo, a banker from the Dominican Republic. "A couple of friends and myself, we practice scuba diving and we began to see the situation of the ocean from underneath and said we had to do something," he says. "So we established our own foundation, Vida Azul, which means Blue Life, four years ago. We gathered about 1,800 volunteers."  

They've been cleaning waterways in the Santo Domingo area.

"What we’re doing is we organize speeches and reunions where we talk about the importance of water and try to get people involved, mostly children under 12," Oviedo says. "I think we’re pretty effective. A lot of people know about our efforts and they know the importance of not throwing trash in rivers and lakes and the ocean as well."

When Blue Life volunteers reach out to school children, he says, they raise other issues as well.

"For example, we ask them if they’ve seen their fathers while they shave. We say if you close the water every time you shave, then you open the tap again to wash the razor, you’re saving so much amount of water."

Spreading the word

Judy Bolin, an American from the east coast state of North Carolina is also concerned about the oceans. She runs NC Big Sweep, a group which conducts year-round education to cut down on littering.

"The great thing about people participating in the clean ups is that after they’re finished with their cleanup, we’ll hear them say, ‘I didn’t know there was so much litter out there. I’m never going to litter again,'" says Bolin. "It’s an eye-opening experience for everyone as it was for me. I remember one time we released a green heron from a fishing line out there in the river, and it was just wonderful to see it fly away and recover from what someone had done, [leaving] a fishing line in the river, which is not a good thing to do."

Now, Bolin says, volunteers from all over the world can communicate and exchange experiences.

"We’ve got social media. We’ve just started getting into Facebook and Twitter last year and a couple of our counties were successful recruiting volunteers this way. So we’ve got connections all over the world."

Judy Bolin and Oscar Oviedo say they hope more volunteers will join their effort to clean up the oceans. To those who cannot join, they say, please stop littering our waterways.

You May Like

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

10 Migrants Drown, While 4,100 Rescued off Libyan Coast

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs