Nusa Penida, Bali: British diver films sea of rubbish floating off the coast

Footage taken by a British diver swimming through swathes of rubbish off the coast of the Indonesian island of Bali has put ocean pollution back in the spotlight. 

Rich Horner filmed himself in water strewn with plastic waste at the renowned dive site Manta Point on the island of Nusa Penida, about 24 kilometres from Denpasar, the regional capital of Bali. 

Horner wrote in a social media post on March 3 that the ocean currents had delivered "a lovely gift" of jellyfish, plankton and mounds of plastic.

The video shows a thick layer of rubbish floating on the water's surface.

"Plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic cups, plastic sheets, plastic buckets, plastic sachets, plastic straws, plastic baskets, plastic bags, more plastic bags, plastic, plastic, so much plastic," he said.  

The two-and-a-half minute video shows Horner swimming through the detritus, which far outnumbers marine life. The debris on the water's surface forms a thick ceiling of waste. 

While manta rays regularly visit Manta Point to get cleaned of parasites by smaller fish, Horner spots just one manta in the video, apparently trying to keep below the sea of waste. 

"Surprise, surprise, there weren't many mantas there at the cleaning station today," he said. "They mostly decided not to bother."

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Bali has such a big problem with rubbish during the rainy season that it is also dubbed "trash season".

The waste ends up on the resort island's beaches, shocking tourists and environmentalists. 

Last December, authorities erected a banner on litter-strewn Kuta beach saying: "We do apologise for this inconvenience, your visit interrupted by natural phenomenon in the form of annual waste of west wind impact."

Shadikin Akbar, who teaches surfing lessons on the iconic surf beach, said most of the annual deluge of plastic between December and February comes from the densely populated Indonesian island of Java.

From December 5 to 10, 2017, the local government declared a "trash emergency" on Kuta and Legian beaches.

"During those five days the amount of trash that washed up on the beach each day reached over 50 tonnes," said Badung regency head of environment and sanitation Putu Eka Merthawan.

"During the monsoon season normally we clean no more than five tonnes daily."

But Bali is far from the only place to struggle with ocean pollution. 

At an environmental summit in Kenya last December, United Nations environment executive director Erik Solheim warned that the world was facing an "ocean Armageddon".

Eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped in the ocean every year, destroying marine life and ending up in the food chain.

A report last year suggested 2050 could be the grim tipping point when there is more plastic in the ocean than fish.

Stuff.co.nz

See also: 20 things that will shock first time visitors to Bali

See also: The beautiful part of Bali tourists don't know about

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