Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Of Jellyfish and Plastic Bags

If you google "beaches" and "jellyfish" together, you get articles from the Med to Australia about resorts inundated with these stinging blobs. Here in the Chesapeake, NOAA publishes predictions of the likelihood of encountering sea nettles, based on water temperature and salinity: People are reduced to swimming in Lycra skins or in small areas fenced off with fine mesh nets. And much of the population explosion is due to overfishing the jellyfish's natural predators, sea turtles and tuna and other similar large fish.

The poor sea turtles! If that wasn't bad enough, when they do try to get a jellyfish meal, they can be far too often tricked by an imposter in the form of a plastic bag. We tried a little experiment:
We tried to see if we could make a plastic bag look like a jellyfish by putting it on the end of a boat pole and swirling it around in the water.

Here's a jellyfish we photographed in Mill Creek last month.

And here's our best attempt with the plastic bag.
Okay, it wouldn't necessarily fool me, but then, I'm not swimming in the murky water, either. And if nothing else, it was the starting point for some great conversation on the dock!

I doubt this was what the City of Annapolis had in mind when the plastic bag ban was being discussed last year. I hate seeing plastic bags caught high in trees or pasted to fences, and we've seen them, and mylar party balloons fallen back to earth, 50 miles off shore in the emptiness of the Atlantic. On the other hand, I'm not particularly a fan of such things as bans, it seems to me awfully like trying to regulate common sense. We bring reusable cloth bags to the grocery store (when we remember). Whether we do paper or plastic is so much about how we can reuse the bags after they've carried our stuff home. Paper bags so rarely work in our boat life - they are heavier, bulkier, and besides - you can hardly use them to pack your wet swimsuit home from the pool!

Click on the monkey's fist to read others bloggers on this topic.

The Monkey's Fist

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