23 October, 2013 23 October, 2013

The Ocean Is Broken

“It was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.

Not the absence of sound, exactly.

The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.

And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.

What was missing were the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.

The birds were missing because the fish were missing.”

– quote from ‘The Ocean is Broken’ on www.theherald.com.au


The excerpt above is from a recent voyage Australian long-distance yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen took from Brisbane to Osaka, Japan. He’d taken the same route 10 years earlier and found the situation to be very different from the current state of the Pacific Ocean.

In previous voyages all Ivan needed to do to catch some dinner was throw a line overboard, and more often than not he’d catch two fresh fish for dinner. On this voyage, however, he caught nothing.

He encountered factory-sized fishing vessels plundering the ocean and letting their bycatch go to waste, simply because it wasn’t the specific species they were targetting.

Debris litters the ocean, then due to currents they gather in a big swirling mess – like at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Ivan navigated his way through countless pieces of floating debris – much of which is sadly the result of the devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck Japan in 2011.

The once proud and indestructible paint job on his yacht, Funnel Web, had also lost its sheen, suggesting that something may not be quite right with the Pacific waters.

Perhaps this is the result of the massive leak of radioactive water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant that was also damaged in the 2011 tsunami?

The Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant was damaged in the 2011 Japan tsunami. It continues to leak radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. – Image © Simply Info

For many landlubbers the state of the world’s ocean is not their immediate concern, as they rally against rhino poaching and violence, corruption steals headlines, and a disturbing amount are focussed more on what their favourite celebrity was wearing to the Academy Awards.

For surfers a story like this is far closer to home, yet we still see waves rolling in at our favourite breaks, and for many of us our thoughts are not on what’s happening there in the middle of the ocean. Out there by The Great Pacific Garbage Patch surrounded by water that strips paint from once proud yachts.

Of course, there are also thousands who are actively involved in trying to keep our oceans from getting destroyed. From the very front lines protesting against overfishing, to your local beach cleanup operation keeping your stretch of sand litter free.

Read the full story of Ivan’s journey here and keep your mind on the ocean.

Everything looks just fine from here.

1 Comment

  1. mr green
    23 October, 2013 at 6:37 pm · Reply

    Theres a young chap whose come up with an idea that may help the oceans quite quickly. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROW9F-c0kIQ, Ted talks ocean clean up. Hopefully we havent killed all the life out there before something like this happens.

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