Ben Fogle swims through landfill in the middle of Indian Ocean

An organisation with charity status is dedicating itself to raising public awareness of the current crisis in all 5 of the world oceans. Plastic Oceans (www.plasticoceans.net ) is also aiming to let people know that mankind’s obsession with all things plastic is causing possibly irreversible damage to our rivers and seas.

Future Planet Films, a production company based in Bristol has been commissioned by Plastic Oceans to make a major film that it hope will get the message across the globe via the powerful medium of the big screen. They have just returned from a highly successful shoot with he TV presenter and explorer Ben Fogle in the Indian Ocean. Their top team captured some amazing new footage of Blue whales on the trip.

Fogle was filmed swimming through what he described as a ‘slick of plastic soup’ in the exact location where the whales, the planets largest living creatures, come to forage for the Krill they need to survive. Fogle described the episode as tragic and horrifying.

Samples of bright red whale poo were collected for analysis by Dr Lindsay Porter, a cetacean biologist. She is conducting a scientific investigation to find out what levels of toxins are being consumed by the marine mammals across the globe.

The team is specifically investigating ‘skinny whale syndrome’. It seems almost certain that many whales are failing to achieve their maximum weight because of the levels of marine debris they are consuming. This begs the questions, ‘Are we choking to death some of the most spectacular animals on the planet?’

Filming of the sequences needed to create a powerful cinematic release is expected to be completed by early 2013.

Plastic Oceans has however agreed to provide an exclusive sneak preview of some of the Sri Lanka footage to support the Project Ocean campaign being launched in conjunction with Selfridges on May 11.

Jo Ruxton, a former BBC producer who has worked on major documentaries such as Blue Planet and Pacific Abyss, was the principal founder of Plastic Oceans. ‘We’re thrilled to be a part of the Selfridges campaign and wholeheartedly applaud the work being done by Project Ocean to help protect our marine habitats.’

Speaking about what inspired her to form Plastic Oceans and subsequently Future Planet Films, Jo Ruxton said, ‘When I heard the extent of the problem of plastic waste in our oceans and how it affects not just marine life but ultimately human health, I knew I had to try to do something about it. Nothing tells a story and inspires people quite like a well-crafted and compelling film.’

As a marine scientist, Jo Ruxton says, ‘This issue is without doubt one of the biggest challenges facing our oceans this century. It’s as important as the threats to our planet from climate change.’

Award winning Hong Kong-based filmmaker Craig Leeson, who has been enlisted as film director, said, ‘The issue is so thought provoking, the animals and events we are filming are so magnificent that this film lends itself to the big screen.

‘For an audience to understand truly what it’s like to swim underwater with the biggest animal ever to have lived on planet earth, the Blue Whale, they need to see it on the big screen.’

The Plastic Oceans team first gathered evidence about the seriousness of the problem in the Pacific Ocean in 2009 as part of a scientific expedition to collect plastic waste. Contrary to popular belief, the important thing to realise is that a so-called giant ‘garbage patch the size of texas’ is a myth. But this does not mean the problem does not exist. Far from it. In fact, the evidence reveals a far more insidious and less visible toxic soup just below the surface. The millions of tonnes of plastic that end up in the ocean do not degrade. They simply break down into very small particulates after years of exposure to sunlight and relentless wave action. These particles then become part of the food chain. Plankton, small inverterbrates and other small marine animals regularly ingest or eat the plastic.

Scientists are still drawing up an assessment of the scale of the crisis but it is clear that almost every part of the world’s oceans have now fallen victim to plastic pollution.
One of the world’s most respected naturalists and documentary filmmakers, Sir David Attenborough, is supporting the Plastic Oceans campaign. He is adamant that ‘doing nothing is not an option.’

Sir David says, ‘We have to act now to repair some of the appalling damage that we’ve done to our oceans. There is no such thing as away because plastic is so permanent that when we cast it into the ocean it does not go away.’

Sir David urges manufacturers to take their share of responsibility by making it easier to recycle and even helping to finance ways of ensuring it is disposed of properly.

He is among some of the biggest names in wildlife filmmaking who are backing the Plastic Oceans core mission – to empower people with the knowledge of how destructive plastic is to marine habitats so that steps can be taken to reduce the severity of its impact.

In an interview for www.plasticoceans.net the legendary underwater explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau said that if things continue as they are then ‘ultimately our species will disappear and the planet will not care – it will still be there.  It’s our choice.’

Howard Lack, CEO Plastic Oceans Foundation, announced that as a result of the success of the first Plastic Oceans shoot in Sri Lanka that the main sponsors have agreed to continue funding this vitally important film project, together with the work of the foundation.

He says, ‘This a fantastic endorsement of the work we are doing. It is also a recognition by major investors of the true significance of the plastic pollution issue as one of the most important environmental challenges of the 21st Century.’