Our oceans and the creature’s dependent on them -are in crises while environmental organisations and concerned citizens take on the mammoth task to try to clean up the tonnes of toxic plastic.
The estimated plastic waste in our oceans amounts to trillions, weighing over 260,000 tons. Not only does the various kinds of plastics, dyes and other chemicals within poison the water, they are extremely hazardous to the mammals, fish, crustaceans and birds.
Pall Sigurdsson and friends, diving at Lembeh, Indonesia, took the time to find a suitable home for a baby veined octopus and provided it with a choice of shells to replace the plastic cup it was using at the time. Proof that people do care about the ocean and the creatures whose home it is.
Sigurdsson, an engineer and diving enthusiast from Iceland, enjoys filming animals he come across during his underwater adventures.
He explained his encounter with the baby octopus, saying: “This was our third dive that day, and we were all starting to get a little bit tired. My dive buddy sent me a hand signal indicating that he had found an octopus and asked me to come over for help.”
“I am no stranger to seeing octopi making homes out of trash. They are clever animals and use their environment to their advantage, and trash is a permanent part of their environment now,” continued Sigurdsson. “However the octopus with its soft tentacles did not know that this cup offers virtually no protection, and in a competitive environment like the ocean, this cup was a guaranteed death sentence.”
So immersed in the task of finding the little octopus a new home Sigurdsson and the other divers spent their entire dive and almost all their oxygen for the task.
Veined octopi are born with the instinct to protect themselves by searching for coconut or clam shells to use as a mobile home. They are even referred to as coconut octopi.
These days, unfortunately, they are more likely to find plastic containers and cups – the latter ended up being this little fellow’s choice. The cup in question was also transparent, making it easier for predators to spot the octopus and should the predator eat its prey, the plastic will be part of the meal.
As part of the natural food chain, the predator would likely be affected by ingesting the plastic and become weak or die, a bigger predator may eat it and continue the never-ending circle.
According to Sigurdsson, when asked about the amount of trash where he dives, he lamented: “There are good days, and there are bad days depending on ocean currents. Some days, you see so much trash that it is almost impossible to film sea creatures without also including trash.”
“I try as hard as I can to make people see the ocean when it looks its best. Once I saw a family of anemone fish living next to a corroded battery. That was heartbreaking,” sighed Sigurdsson.
Sigurdsson elaborated on this plastic pollution, saying “Most trash (including plastic) sinks. Most people only talk about the parts that they can see. The part that floats, but that’s just scratching the surface of the problem. Plastic straws are a minuscule part of the problem.”
Image credits: Pall Sigurdsson
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