A video captured by a scuba diver in Nusa Lembongan, a small island off the southeast coast of Bali, shows manta rays swimming through hordes of trash when searching for food.
Lauren Jubb posted the video to Facebook on Feb. 16 and is asking the public to limit their use of non-recycled plastic and waste. The Australian woman planned a day of diving when she was shocked by what she found.
“We stopped at Manta Point and it was stunning; on the surface of the water that is… We saw huge manta rays swimming underneath the boat and it all seemed so magical,” she wrote in the Facebook post.
“But then we went underneath the ocean’s surface… I honestly could have just burst into tears then and there. I have never been so horrified and heartbroken as I was when I saw the amount of plastic and rubbish in the bay.”
She went on to say that the manta rays had plastic bags around their mouth and bodies, while they were weaving their way through the garbage.
In the video you can see the creatures opening their mouths wide to filter through the water for food. Manta rays don’t actually have teeth but instead eat by sieving food particles out of the water using rows of tiny plates in their mouths.
According to a recent study, industry has made more than 9.1 billion tons of plastic since 1950 and there’s enough left over to bury Manhattan under more than two miles of trash.
Plastics don’t break down like other man-made materials, so three-quarters of the stuff ends up as waste in landfills, littered on land and floating in oceans, lakes and rivers, according to the research reported in Science Advances.
Jubb hopes her video will raise awareness on plastic pollution and will encourage people to think twice about their consumption.
“It just completely breaks my heart that the ocean is suffering at a mass extent due to our careless behaviour and lack of knowledge. What you can’t see can’t hurt I guess but without the ocean and its ecosystem there is no us!” Jubb said.