Ecological Reserve or Garbage Patch?

By Anonymous

            I had been curious about the Bolsa Chica wetlands, a lush ecological reserve off of Bolsa Chica State Beach, so recently I decided to spend my afternoon there. I began my trip by starting on the dirt trail that winds through the wetlands, and as I walked I found myself enjoying the windy afternoon.  To my left there was a field of tall grass straining against the wind, and to my right I caught a glimpse of a hawk hovering over its prey.  As a marine life enthusiast and environmentalist, I found this excursion to be perfectly relaxing.  However, about midway through my walk, I looked over a bridge connecting the ocean to the wetlands, and a sore, yet all-too familiar sight lay blatant in front of me.

            I discovered that people had hauled large pieces of garbage—crates, yoga mats, and milk cartons, among other things—over the bridge at their convenience.  It looked like the kind of pollution I would encounter in a big city, not an ecological reserve by the ocean, scarcely frequented in comparison.  As I understand, this land is meant to serve as a healthy environment to nourish endangered species and their natural habitats.  It is one of the few places along our coastlines that serve to protect what came before us.  Some consider it sacred.

            At this point in my hike, I felt a sudden creative spark as the environmentalist in me lit up.  I snatched a few photos of the scene, and headed to the information center to speak to an employee at the reserve.  Once inside, I was able to ask a few questions of Executive Director Grace Adams.  According to Grace, “we have removed needles and condoms.”  When asked how her organization proposes to solve this problem, she replied that “part of the solution is educating the public,” which is done through the Interpretive Center.

           Animals are growing up in filth, and experts are needed to relocate them to a healthy environment that is free of garbage.

            Apparently, the trash cannot be picked up by the public and has not been removed by the conservatory because this garbage is home to nesting endangered species.  I obtained no information about a plan of action from the conservatory, and was instructed not to tell the public to pick up the garbage.  The fact that the offspring of dwindling populations are growing up in this garbage—in an ecological reserve—was appalling to me.  I asked why a scientist couldn’t be called in to help relocate the endangered animals from the garbage patch to a nearby area.  I received no explanation, but was assured that I had made a good point.

            To my knowledge, no action has been taken on this issue since my last visit.  Nesting endangered species are growing up on yoga mats and in milk cartons.  This seems ironic considering that we recognize an ecological reserve as a sanctuary for native species and their habitats.  When endangered species are growing up in human waste, they are not growing up in an ecological reserve.  It seems we are failing our purpose in protecting the wildlife on these sacred grounds.

Citing for graphs: Quotes are taken from the article, “22 Facts About Plastic Pollution (And 10 Things We Can Do About It)” by Lynn Hasselberger with The Green Divas, at http://ecowatch.com/2014/04/07/22-facts-plastic-pollution-10-things-can-do-about-it/.