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The Best Doc We've Ever Seen About Plastic in the Seas

10/02/17

Turtles caught in plastic nets. An albatross whose stomach was found to contain a golf ball and a toothbrush. Coastal property whose value is sinking under the weight of plastic invaders. Risks to human health that no one even pretends to understand.

These are some of the images and issues present in "A Plastic Tide," a 2017 documentary that's both a comprehensive look at plastic pollution in the world's waters and a call to respond to this entirely human-made tragedy. The 45-minute film, easily the strongest we've seen on the subject, is viewable free at www.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DzcCNAXIiA.

Produced by Sky News, the UK-based media conglomerate, the documentary moves around the globe – from the city beaches of Mumbai, India, to the sewer system in London – to show the causes and consequences of plastic pollution in our waterways. Interviews with marine biologists, academics and anti-pollution activists go below the surface of the problem, looking at its economic and cultural sources and detailing some of the risks that discarded plastic entails for people, sea creatures, birds and more.

“The ocean where life on Earth began is being turned into a synthetic soup,” says correspondent Thomas Moore, noting that plastics from almost anywhere on the planet can end up almost anywhere else.

Moore also delves into our emerging awareness of "microplastics" – fragments, measuring 5mm or less, of larger plastic structures that have been broken down by wind, waves and natural degradation. Tiny enough to be ingested by sea creatures as small as plankton and shrimp, microplastics then make their way into our food supply. And what do they do when they enter the human body? No one knows.

The film does not sensationalize or preach. Rather, it presents its evidence with a depth and clear-headedness that makes its subject both heart-rending and deeply motivating. Watch it once – then just try to resist telling other folks to do the same.

--By Jim Pierce