Eight years ago, a landfill crumbled into the waters off the Greek island of Andros. Since then, tons plastics and other such waste have plagued the waters, causing significant harm to local marine life.
At first glance, they look like a typical, colorful array of corals swaying in the blue Aegean Sea.
But they are not. Instead they are thousands of plastic bags that have accumulated and stuck to the seabed since the landfill’s collapse in 2011.
In late July, a team of divers and environmentalists traveled to Andros, where they pulled tons of said plastic bags from the island’s waters. They also removed 660 lbs of discarded fishing nets — also known as “ghost nets.”
According to Reuters, the team described their findings as a “gulf full of plastic corals.”
“It was a very scary thing to see,” said Arabella Ross, a volunteer diver with Aegean Rebreath, a group founded in 2017 to carry out underwater and coastal clean-ups. “It really shook me and I think it really shook everyone who saw it.”
Ross added that it was “like the paradise of the Caribbean Sea, where you find coral reefs everywhere of every color. It was the exact same thing, but instead of corals it was bags.”
Ross said the team was only able to clean up part of the waste they encountered.
According to a June report by the World Wildlife Fund, the Mediterranean Sea has among the highest levels of plastic pollution in the world.
The report found that Greece produces about 700,000 tons of plastic waste a year — 11,500 of which end up in its seas. Approximately 70% of that 11,5000 then returns to the Greek coastline — which is one of the longest in the world.
Featured image / Stelios Misinas
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