As it turns out, even though the waters of Venice canals are much clearer these days thanks to the lack of tourist-driven gondola traffic, dolphins are not swimming in the canals. There are swans there; that’s true. But as that turns out, there are always swans there.
That was one internet hoax that we really wanted to believe — the one where Mother Nature is taking advantage of this short break from human intrusion to clear her skies, clean her waters and let her non-human creatures roam freely in areas where they had been pushed out by their human brothers and sisters.
And it might be true to small degrees in some areas of the world. But it probably won’t be for much longer as governments move to reopen their economies to get us all working, playing, traveling and basically remarking our territory on the resource-depleted little rock that we’re revolving around the galaxy on.
In one of his daily Reel Report columns last week, Capt. Joe Kent shared a sad fishing report from a local angler who wrote:
“The beach was the cleanest I’ve seen in years. I knew that would not last. By 8 a.m. I saw a guy throw an ice bag in the water. Also, several drink cans and cups. Then a woman threw a pizza box in the water from the rocks. They ruin it for all of us.”
Indeed, they do. On a personal level because who wants to swim or fish or frolic in other people’s trash? And even more importantly, on a human level. It’s just selfish and ugly to pollute. And it diminishes us all.
We know we’re not supposed to judge. We know that everyone’s story is different, and most people are dealing with things that we know nothing about.
But try as we might, we can’t come up with a reasonable excuse to throw cans and bottles, plastic bags and pizza boxes into the Gulf of Mexico — or any other body of water — when you’re enjoying a lovely day of fishing off a rock groin after weeks of being cooped up in the house, riding out a pandemic.
Or any time, really. There’s just no excuse.
Many people are looking at the coronavirus-related lockdowns as a chance to reboot, to rethink and to maybe take a new approach to how we relate to one another, to our world, to ourselves.
If you’re one of the people who is just fine leaving a trail of trash in your wake, this might be a good time to rethink your place in the world and how you honor it.
You’re not alone here. The Earth is not your trash heap. The ocean is not your personal dumping ground.
No one person can put an end to the atrocities that countries, governments, corporations, etc., perpetrate on our home planet — trash barges, anyone? — but individuals still can do their part. It begins with one person picking up his or her own trash and disposing of it properly. Every piece, every time. It’s that easy to help stop a sea mammal from swimming around with a belly full of plastics or a turtle from living its life squeezed in the middle by the six-pack ring that it crawled into as a baby and can never escape.
It begins with you. If you can’t be the solution, at least stop being part of the problem.
Seriously. Don’t litter.
• Margaret Battistelli Gardner