It is Friday night, and I am already trying to think about my answers to all the questions I will be getting when I get home. If someone asks me what my favorite part of the trip was, then I would probably say (as of right now) collecting trash on a motu yesterday. It seems strange to write that out right now, but I really found it fascinating how much marine debris washes up on such a small island area. My group found a Barbie leg, toothbrush, and flip flops to mention a few. Among these, there were countless plastic bottles and bottle caps. Everything we found was weathered and at times broke into smaller pieces with the slightest of pressure. All the trash shows you how big of a problem and how abundant plastics really are to the ocean, as well as any sized land masses. The beach clean up was truly an eye opener. It is one thing to learn about the world’s plastic problem in school or in the media; it is another thing to see it first-hand and be able to eliminate it from the system.
In addition, yesterday we were on and off a boat for approximately eight hours straight. Thinking about it now, today is the first day we did not ride on a boat. Funny how being on a boat has already become such a familiar feeling after only being at the Cook Islands for five days. Using a boat has been such a vital part of our time here; I can only imagine how important it is to the locals who use them on a daily basis for fishing and tourism. They depend on each of these so heavily for survival and their economy. It is difficult to imagine what would happen to their way of life if either fishing or tourism became hindered in any way. However, this is something we must consider and plan for because the health of their reefs are threatened, which can quickly influence both negatively. Hopefully, our work here will be of some aid in determining the proper resource management techniques to prevent further depletion of the reefs here and keep the ecosystem thriving.