Environment Recycling & Waste Plastic Invades the Once Pristine Waters of the Philippines (Photos) By Melissa Breyer Editorial Director Hunter College F.I.T., State University of New York Cornell University Melissa Breyer is Treehugger’s editorial director. She is a sustainability expert and author whose work has been published by the New York Times and National Geographic, among others. our editorial process Melissa Breyer Updated March 12, 2019 ©. Noel Guevara/Greenpeace Share Twitter Pinterest Email Recycling & Waste Plastics Zero Waste A new expedition finds pervasive plastic in the Verde Island Passage, home to one of the largest concentrations of marine life in the world. In 2006, a team of marine conservationists crowned the Philippines as the world's Center of Marine Biodiversity, and in particular, they declared the Verde Island Passage as the "Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity." Connecting the South China Sea with the Tayabas Bay and the Sibuyan Sea, the waters play home to numerous threatened sea turtles like hawksbills, olive ridleys, and green turtles, and other fascinating species too numerous to count. Put it this way. While surveying sea creatures in the area, Rich Mooi, curator of invertebrate zoology and geology at the California Academy of Sciences, wrote in The New York Times, "This is the most amazing place I have ever been in my 30 years of research." Another Pollution Tragedy Yet tragically, the organisms that call the passage home have a new kind of visitor to contend with: plastic pollution. The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior has just finished up an exploration of the area, and has shared images with us showing how the once-pristine waters are now peppered with plastic. © Noel Guevara/Greenpeace © Noel Guevara/Greenpeace © Noel Guevara/Greenpeace © Noel Guevara/Greenpeace © Noel Guevara/Greenpeace A Tour With a Green Mission The Rainbow Warrior is on its "Ship It Back" tour in the Philippines, with a mission of highlighting the role that plastic producers and big companies are playing in the plastic crisis. While many of us consumers are trying our best to be careful with our plastic use, as long as the manufacturers keep cranking the stuff out, it's going to end up somewhere. As Greenpeace notes, "Let's not forget. The plastic problem began in the boardrooms of the top multinational companies when they decided to dump products packaged in single-use, non-recyclable plastic in places where there is no infrastructure to manage them." “This is undeniable proof of how irresponsible single-use plastic production by fast-moving consumer goods companies threatens our pristine environment," says Abigail Aguilar, campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. If big companies don’t respond to our calls for reduction in single-use plastic production, she says, "these places of 'paradise' like Verde Island Passage, will be lost.” To find out more and how you can help, visit Greenpeace.