Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Week 2: The Harm Plastic Can Cause

Hello all,

This week for SHSB I worked at Piers park, went to George's Island, and volunteered to do trail maintenance at Peddocks Island. Needless to say, I had an amazing week working with different groups of people, in addition to seeing two more of the harbor islands for the first time. While on George's we set up multiple fishing rods on the pier and managed to catch dozens of crabs throughout the day as well as a blue lobster which had made its way into our crab trap that we had set the day before. I was also fortunate enough to get a chance to walk around the old fort on the island and take in some very cool sights.

The day on Peddocks Island was extremely strenuous work, but equally rewarding at the end of the day. We were split up into seven groups to work at various sites around the island, and my group was tasked with clearing an overgrown trail, so heavy machinery could get up the trails for future use. Using shovels, rakes, and saws, we eventually managed to move a considerable amount of the overgrowth; however, the rain earlier was absorbed by all of the mud and soil on the trail so it took a great deal of teamwork to move the chunks we pulled off. Overall, that was one of the most labor-intensive, but rewarding days I've had at SHSB, and I finished the day with a new appreciation for all of the intense care and work that goes into creating and maintaining a beautiful public park.

Peddocks Island after a hard day's work!
Sadly, as far as the Boston harbor has come with combating plastic pollutants in the water, on multiple occasions at various sites, I have seen many plastic items floating in the harbor. I try to capture and remove any and all that I encounter, but the problems are deeper than what the eye sees. 

Micro-plastics, which are particles less than 5 mm, have become a major concern in our oceans as we don’t know their true impact on marine life or on their transfer to humans through seafood. Micro-plastic can harm marine life physically or through leaching of chemicals. A recent study found that eight trillion microbeads were entering aquatic environments throughout the United States every day, eventually, much of this plastic reaches the coastal ocean.

Research is being conducted due to ecological, economic, and social impacts. Ecological impacts include organism health and the potential harm from ingestion and toxicity. The economic value of sea creatures can be affected by organism health decline, loss of fishing, and tourism. There are also serious implications of potential human health risks with the consumption of organisms that have been exposed to plastics.

Don't get too down about these issues, there are still things average people can do every day to fight these unhealthy trends. My personal favorite is going to a public area like the beach or on a nice hike, but I will bring a trash bag with me in case I see any trash on the ground. It might seem like a small act but it's personally rewarding being able to see the difference one person can make in a seemingly hopeless situation.

Will Miller.

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