From Bali to Komodo: Documenting Plastic Pollution on Remote Islands of Indonesia

How much plastic pollution fills the waters around Indonesia? How are flora and fauna reacting to plastic garbage in their environment? These are the questions scientists, artists, and leaders will ask on their 10-day expedition on schooner Sea Safari VII from Bali to Komodo, Indonesia, Nov. 1-10, 2016.

Passengers on the boat include: Dianna Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition; Pam Longobardi, Oceanic Society Artist in Nature; Abby Barrows, Adventure Scientists Microplastics Principal Investigator; Lisa Christensen, CEO of Ecozine and Hong Kong Cleanup; Kip Evans of Mission Blue; Wayne Sentman of Oceanic Society; and artist Alvaro Soler Arpa.

“We’re expecting to see plastic garbage on the remote islands and waters of Indonesia,” said Cohen. “We will collect and document the plastic and report our findings.”

Pam Longobardi, who traveled the same course in 2014, saw “coral gardens of indescribable beauty” and “fish in ten thousand hues,” but also the “troubling” reality of plastic pollution throughout her voyage.

On the island of Lombok she witnessed a mother and baby macaque eating plastic, “the mother scavenging food that looked like carrots packaged in plastic” while the baby chewed on a plastic bottle.

While snorkeling, Longobardi retrieved sunken plastic. “I cut fishing line and nets free from coral,” she wrote. “Some plastic had been underwater so long it had been colonized and encrusted with life.”

One stop on the voyage will be Komodo Island, the only place in the world home to living dinosaurs: the Komodo dragon. Even these massive creatures are not immune to the effects of plastic pollution in their environment. Longobardi has seen plastic in a Komodo dragon’s “bolus” (material that has been eaten, swallowed, and regurgitated) in the way that albatross, owls, and other birds have done with plastic pieces.

What animals will the voyagers see on this trip? And what types of plastic will they collect? Stay tuned for the next update.

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6 responses to “From Bali to Komodo: Documenting Plastic Pollution on Remote Islands of Indonesia”

  1. Justin Keniger says:

    My wife and I paddled sea kayaks in this region in 2011 – 6 months from Java to Alor (www.archipaddlo.blogspot.com). Plastic rubbish littered every remote reef, beach and island. Mangroves are virtually buried in plastic in some areas. Of course much of the area is spectacularly beautiful too. In remote villages plastic rubbish often appeared to be treated as we would treat fallen leaves – they are just left in place. Most domestic rubbish in these remote islands is burnt on the beach alongside where children play and collect shellfish and crabs for food. Creeks are choked with rubbish, flowing unchecked into marine reserves.
    These communities need wide ranging change – education, and perhaps litigation and enforcement – and a change in the culture of plastic use to see positive change in these fragile environments and remote communities.

  2. pete.brosius@gmail.com says:

    Great cause, tapi semua Bule. Why not engage with local activists/artists who are addressing the plastics issue? People like Made Bayak and his Plasticology project (http://travel.kompas.com/read/2016/10/23/123700127/kampanyekan.bebas.sampah.plastik.plasticology.hasilkan.karya.seni) and Melati & Isabel Wijsen (http://www.theinertia.com/surf/these-two-teenage-girls-are-fixing-balis-plastic-problem/)

  3. linda says:

    im so sad to read that. i was for 2years ago of bali an it was horrible to surf in trash. i havent seen so much trash in my life. what can we do really?!?!

  4. nicauckland@hotmail.com says:

    The root cause is the fact that there is no waste management and collection in rural areas and suburbs. Indonesia need to invest in waste management, people outside of big cities are forced to dump in rivers and anywhere they can. During raining season all the waste get pushed into the rivers and rivers into ocean. The only way is to expose the corrupted politicians of Indonesia. I’m currently on vacation for the first time in Bali and this waste is just ruining my holidays, we see garbage all over the islands it is shocking.

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