This is not about a ‘Black Swan’ phenomenon that is so unexpected as to be unimaginable. Its about an everyday black swan phenomenon. It’s about black swans and littered plastic.
Recently, a swan made her nest very close to the Webb Bridge in Docklands. As you can see, she used all the materials to hand to create her nest – reeds interwoven with plastic bits and pieces. And there she sat in dignity on her eggs for some weeks in that very public place. A light rope cordon was put in place to keep people at a respectful distance. The many walkers passing by were either protective or didn’t notice her in their walking determination. A car pulled up and tossed some straw her way to assist her nest making.
Then last week I came across that scene again, this time at Gasworks. Ceramic artist Ursula Dutkiewicz has done some nest building herself using a similar mix of natural and found plastic materials, creating an installation just like that one on the Yarra bank. Resting in the constructed nest are some beautiful ceramic eggs. On the wall behind was a sunset photograph of abundant swans at home in a wetland landscape.
Plastic pollution in the marine environment featured in the Conversation this week. It published a link to research on the scary extent of micro plastic in the ocean – all the teeny pieces that are left when plastic breaks down. Oily pollutants cling to the surface of the plastic. Fish and birds ingest the plastic as we know.
The researchers used a specialised manta net to capture that tiny floating plastic in the ocean. It is just such a net that will be used soon to gather plastic fragments in the Yarra River to conduct some more systematic research on the level and sources of plastic in the Yarra River and thence the Bay.
Lest you, like me, have taken black swans for granted rather than treating them as exceptional appearances, have a look at the My Swan website where you can report a sighting, or admire the fabulous photographs.
Postscript: The swans of Yarra’s Edge had five eggs but alas only one cygnet survived. The family have now left the area. (4/12/2013)