As colossal as ‘Big Blue’ might be she is also very frail

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We had departed LAX about seven hours earlier but as I looked down – miles down – the moonlight reflected on the scene below showed nothing other than an expanse that went on seemingly forever. It was the Pacific Ocean.

Prior to this eight hour journey to the Cook Islands I truly had little idea of the magnitude of the Pacific Ocean. After we landed – an event that was heralded by the view of about seven (or so it seemed) bright lights on the horizon that indicated Rarotonga had been attained. It was about two a.m. when that event transpired.

Where I live, on British Columbia’s west coast the Pacific laps on our shores. A few months ago we went to Alaska. Also many miles to the north but still on the Pacific. And a couple of years earlier we went down the coast: Canada, US, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and all them other dinky little Central American places, but all still Pacific. Earlier than that we cruised to Hawaii. It took four full days on that old Big Blue. And there we were on Rarotonga after eight hours flying time and still on the Pacific.

What was daunting is that we hadn’t even completely traversed this massive ocean. Thousands of miles to Australia, New Guinea and all the Asian spots. Damn. It’s big. It covers 30.5% of the planet’s surface. I have traversed (by air) the Atlantic many times and it just seems like a very wide ditch in comparison with the Pacific. I find it difficult to imagine the early explorers traversing it. They truly must have thought that time that they would sail off the planet.

I don’t think it was until we had actually arrived at Rarotonga that we fully appreciated the hugeness of the Pacific. The roar of the surf, which has built up over so many thousands of miles, is deafening if you are close and it can actually keep one awake at night: “Shut the fuck up, ocean, maybe for a few minutes.”

And the ‘big blue’ can be frightening. I am not normally afraid of water. I swim moderately well, so what can it do to me. A lot, in fact. We were once snorkeling in lovely Muri Lagoon and I traversed across to the outer wall of the lagoon and at one point I felt a strong rush of current. I realized there was an egress to the ocean beyond and I stood in jeopardy of being sucked out – to my doom. It was a good thing I was in the water since I promptly peed myself with that realization.

There was an other disquieting element, however. As big as the sucker is, the viler aspects of mankind are ever apparent. One day we decided to walk entirely around one of the lovely little motus (little paradisical islets) on the far side of Muri. As we got to the outer open Pacific side there it was. Garbage; plastic garbage. Masses of it from all the corners of the planet, judging by the labels, with disposable cigarette lighters in colorful array all along the beach.

It only left me with the thought that if we are that vile, we deserve to lose it all.

But, the other thought I have always been left with is that the Pacific is really, really, really, really big. And amazingly, with so much magnitude we are still able to defile it.

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13 responses to “As colossal as ‘Big Blue’ might be she is also very frail

  1. roselefebvre24@comcast.net

    I hate to see garbage dumped anywhere. On hikes wherever I go I often now carry a bag to collect trash I discover so as to clean up the scenery. I wish those who had dmped it would have felt the same way I do. On beaches sometimes the stuff washes up from somewhere (who knows) and it is sad to me that people feel it is okay to desecrate the oceans. Seems everywhere I go I am picking up after others!

    • When we were on Rarotonga we found bags from as far away as Poland. It’s a mess and a horrible threat to wildlife. Good for you for cleaning up after the other jerks. We try to as well.

  2. Amazing, isn’t it? People are stupid. But the ocean, the ocean is beautiful and life giving and vital to our survival. I hope ‘we’ find a way to clean it up.

  3. I agree, though I have to ask why you did not get to the Atlantic side of Panama as well as the Pacific? Just curious…

  4. There’s a book by journalist Jonathan Franklin, about a guy who survived 438 days solo at sea because he fished many plastic bottles out of the ocean to catch rainwater in. NOT a reason for people to litter and ruin our ocean and ecosystem. But interesting aside.

  5. Companies and public institutions in Costa Rica ask their staff to participate in beach clean ups… The sheer amount and variety of stuff washed up is horrifying.
    Saying that I did once come across a stuffed antelope on the beach on the Isle of Sheppey…

  6. When we went to Padre Isand in Texas, the rangers inquired how many trash bags we wanted. We were a bit nonplussed by the question, but said two. Then off we went. As soon as you are off the “official” beach (and you can drive for miles) there’s tons of trash to pick up that’s washed ashore from all over the world. Took us about half an hour to clean up our area of the beach as much as we could with only two bags. Next time, we’ll ask for more. I think it’s a great idea though to ask people to contribute by cleaning up their area.

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