“A Plastic Ocean: The Shocking Truth,” a documentary film looking at the spread of plastic pollution and its long-range effects on the environment, maritime life and humans was shown last Saturday evening at the Ship Bottom Firehouse.

Clean Ocean Action secured the screening rights for the film and presented it in collaboration with the Lighthouse International Film Festival, Alliance for a Living Ocean, Garden Club of Long Beach Island, Long Beach Township, ReClam the Bay and the Ship Bottom Volunteer Fire Company.

The screening was also made possible by the support of the Marta Heflin Foundation.

Prior to showing the film, there were exhibits and information available from the various sponsors.

Afterward, there was a Q&A and panel discussion about the pollution and local solutions with Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action; Teresa Hogan of the LBI Garden Club, who spearheaded the ban on balloon releases in Long Beach Township; Kyle Gronostajski, President of the Alliance for a Living Ocean (ALO); and Jay Mann, Editor of the Sandpaper, who writes and reports on the environment and ecology.

According to the film’s summary “A Plastic Ocean” began when journalist and filmmaker Craig Leeson went searching for the elusive blue whale and discovered a massive area of plastic waste in what should have been a pristine ocean.

Since whales feed by taking in large amounts of water and then filtering out the krill, plankton and other nutrients they were now ingesting large amounts of plastics, according to Leeson.

The plastic cannot be digested or easily expelled. It fills the whales’ stomachs and its jagged edges cut into their digestive organs and eventually kill them.

Leeson then turned the focus of his reporting to plastic pollution and teamed up with oceanic free diver Tanya Streeter.

Over the next four years, they traveled…