This story is part of a series on ocean plastics.
After decades of plastic pollution, overfishing and other man-made crises, our oceans are in serious trouble. But a new film produced by famed director James Cameron is urging us to not lose hope just yet.
Thursday marked the annual World Oceans Day, an awareness event that brought together world leaders and activists to help identify solutions to end plastic pollution and keep litter from entering our waters in the first place. To support those efforts, Cameron, together with environmental group Avatar Alliance Foundation, released a short film titled “What Would the Ocean Say?”
The film outlines the major concerns our oceans face today ― including climate change and overfishing. It was released in conjunction with another segment, which profiles seven advocates who are working to combat those issues.
“What Would the Ocean Say?” also touches on the problem of plastic trash infiltrating the oceans. The scope of this issue and how it will affect humans and marine life are still largely uncertain, but experts agree that we can’t afford to turn a blind eye.
About 19 billion pounds of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year, according to one of the best estimates available. Littering and mismanaged trash disposal are some of the major sources of this problem. Plastic products can take hundreds of years to decompose, and they put marine life at serious risk of injury and death.
Fish and birds often mistake plastic for food. Researchers are now beginning to find plastic embedded into the tissue of marine life.
While most of the world is failing to grasp the severity of this issue, a number of experts around the globe are stepping up.
Among those who appear in the film is Marvin Hall, an educator in Kingston, Jamaica, who takes his students to see firsthand the amount of trash being dumped in the ocean. Also featured is Sophie Hollingsworth, an environmental scientist in Sydney, Australia, who works with indigenous communities that could very well be under water in 50 years. And Asha DeVos, a marine biologist in Sri Lanka, collects data and pushes policy to help protect blue whales.
“The growing global movement of curious young explorers, citizen scientists and conservationists gives me hope,” Cameron told HuffPost via email. “They’re taking action to understand, protect and preserve the world’s oceans, no permission necessary.”
Check out the film, above.