A week ago on Sunday, the weather was forecast to be sunny and warm, with highs in the 70s. My surfing buddy and I decided it was time to transition from snow boards to surfboards. We left town early to hit the windless morning session at Short Sands. Bingo!! It felt so good to be back in the water again, just as it does on that first powder day in the fall.
We finished our session just as the crowds arrived and resolved to call it a day. As our wetsuits dried on the rocks, we decided to walk to the waterfall at the north end of the beach, while along the way fulfilling our usual garbage pick up ritual. At first glance, we noticed an unusual amount of trash, most particularly plastic. We both agreed we had never seen so much before. Upon closer inspection, we realized what we were seeing. Intermingled in the organic debris at the high water mark were millions of tiny plastic bits. The Gyre!
My elation was quickly replaced with hopelessness. It was impossible to pick up all this plastic on the beach. I took some comfort in knowing that as other beach-goers realized what we were doing, they too joined in the endeavor.
Before leaving the beach we stopped along the high-point of the coastal highway, just north of Manzanita, in hopes of observing whales. We were rewarded with many sightings of migrating Grey whales. I worried about them, knowing that they were baleen whales and they would most certainly encounter the debris we just found.
Just today there is a news report of garbage found in stomach of dead whale washed up on West Seattle Beach. Not two days prior, a baby Grey Whale washed up on the beach in Oregon, the same day we watched whales from high above the cliffs.
My first surfing day of the season was filled with so many highs and so many lows. I am inspired to act. I’ll be at the beach again this weekend, picking up my favorite beach. This week I will bring extra bags to hand out too.
Whether your passion is on land or at the sea, join me in my quest to help clean up. Carry out more than you bring in. Contact your local chapter of Surfrider Foundation or check out any of the many National Environmental Organizations to find out how you can help.