Changing our behavior
To the Editor:
We watch with dismay as the scope of the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history unfolds day after day in the Gulf of Mexico. We bemoan the lack of corporate responsibility and government oversight to control "the spill," wording that connotes a glass of overturned milk. Thousands of miles away, here on the Vineyard we can make a personal commitment by small individual actions at the beach or on the water to replace negligence with stewardship. The consequences of marine debris are often not as obvious as an oil-soaked pelican, but just as lethal to marine mammals and birds.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines marine debris as any manmade object discarded, or disposed of, or abandoned that enters the coastal or marine environment. This debris includes everything from Styrofoam food containers, balloons, cigarette butts, bottle caps, tiny straws from toddler juice boxes, fishing line, and boating gear. Sea life die of starvation when these foreign objects become lodged in wildlife intestines or entangle animals that then cannot swim and feed. A young seal tangled in some kind of rug or mat was found in April on a Vineyard beach. Despite the heroic efforts of rescuers to save the seal, it died, a death far removed from the consciousness of the people who carelessly discarded the rug when it had lost its usefulness.
As summer gets under way, with its wonderful times with family and friends, remember the teachings of students at the Edgartown and Oak Bluffs schools, whose award-winning posters displayed on the Joseph Sylvia State Beach remind us to Carry In/Carry Out. Unlike "the spill" in the gulf, controlling marine debris doesn't require a high tech solution. Gather your trash and take it off the beach with you when you leave, disposing of it responsibly (not at roadside.)
To learn more about marine debris go to the www.sengekontacket.org web site. Click on Recent FOS Activities — marine debris. By changing behaviors that cause marine debris to enter the oceans, together we can prevent this kind of pollution, helping to ensure clean healthy seas and beaches for all.
Christina G. Miller
Friends of Sengekontacket