Vancouver Aquarium explorers clean shorelines in Haida Gwaii
On the southern half of Haida Gwaii, plastic bottles and blocks of foam cling to the shores. It's still uncertain where the rubbish came from, but, could the Japanese characters found on most of the beverage containers help identify the culprit?
A team of Vancouver Aquarium explorers, led by the organization's president and CEO John Nightingale, just returned from the archipelago on BC's North Coast, where they discovered "significant increases" in marine debris on the West Coast of Moresby Island.
“I haven’t seen this much floating stuff…ever," said Island Roamer captain, Neil Shearar, who has piloted vessels in the North Pacific for over 20 years and in Haida Gwaii for 14, in a blog post.
After chatting with area residents, Haida Watchmen and frequent visitors, the group confirmed that a great deal of the dramatically increased floating rubble is plastic.
"Whether this increase in debris comes from the debris field making its way across the Pacific following the tsunami in Japan is not completely certain, but the timing and composition of the debris means much of it likely came from land-based sources," read the Aquarium press release.
During the trip, Dr. Nightingale, 13 guests and Island Roamer crew of two performed a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup of Bowles Beach on the Kunghit Island, facing the Pacific Ocean.
"The beach was littered with marine debris consisting mostly of plastics...plainly obvious amounts of floating plastic debris, noticeably more than seen on the East or Hecate Strait side of Haida Gwaii," said the release. "Floating pieces of foam of all types could be seen with the naked eye floating around the Island Roamer."
Apparently, all of the beaches they visited had noticable amounts of debris items not seen during previous visits. From Styrofoam to garbage can-sized tems, all types of floating pieces could be seen.
In cleaning up of Bowles Beach, the debris consisted of small amounts of "expected and normally found" floats, pieces of net and rope.
"What was unexpected was the very large pile of foam-based debris, some of which look like partial sheets of foam building insulation," continued the release.
Also, after surveying over 100 plastic bottles which contained identification, the crew found most had Japanese characters on their labels.