While in San Cristobal, we had a decent amount of rain. These rain storms really showed the extent of the garbage and the impact on the adjacent coast and wildlife. As the storm systems in the islands are not equipped to treat stormwater before runoff meets the ocean, any and all waste that is on the streets and sidewalks finds it way into the storm structures into the pipes, and consequently right into the ocean. It is extremely sad to see sea lions, turtle and crabs wading around through muddied water filled with debris. As sea lions are incredibly playful, when they see things floating in the water they automatically assume it is a toy. This can prove harmful when this item is a paintbrush that has fallen off of a boat, or as in the picture below a colorful shopping bag that has become stuck around the sea lions neck.
|Shopping Bag Stuck around Sea Lion|
On our dive trip the crew told us they had a 'surprise' for us one day. This turned out to be an hour stop for us on the nastiest beach near the Coast Guard station while the boat refueled. We arrived to the beach via two dinghy's and the people in the first dinghy literally pulled a sea lion free from a giant plastic sheet that was floating in the water. There were several sea lions on the beach and a couple in the water, so despite the fact that there was as much garbage floating in the water as you would find in a Wal-Mart dumpster we were all about snorkeling with the sea lions (possible source of ear infection?). You can get an idea of the garbage from the pictures below, but to see it in person is truly sad.
|Sea Lion in Garbage Laden Water|
|Sea Lion and Garbage on the Beach|
In closing, if more, or better yet all, of the local people could be better educated of the fragility of the ecosystem they live amidst the security of this pristine place would be much better off.