Plastic pollution is affecting our marine life…
The land of earth is what we call home, whereas it is essential not to forget the array of species that call the oceans seas of the earth their home. Around the world, plastic pollution affecting marine animals is unequivocally clear… but on what level?
Marine life all over the world are succumbing to the poison that is plastic, invading their homes and they succumb to it every single day.
Examples from the largest predator of earth, a sperm whale that was found washed up dead on the shores of Spain in February 2018, with 64 pounds of plastic – nearly 30 kilograms of indigestible plastic, to a harbour seal pup found dead on the Scottish island of Skye, its intestines fouled by microplastics and a small piece of the plastic wrapper.
How does plastic affect marine life?
As per the United Nations, it’s recorded that at least 800 species of marine mammals worldwide are unfortunately affected by marine debris. Further studies found that a staggering 80 per cent of that litter is plastic. It’s estimated that up to 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year — what could be compared to a dump truck load of rubbish being poured into the ocean each minute.
Marine life that contributes to marine food chains such as fish, seabirds, ocean turtles, and marine warm-blooded creatures can get caught in plastic pollution, causing entanglement or ingest plastic pollution and smaller microplastics, causing ingestion – which may lead to suffocation, infection or starvation.
People are not invulnerable to this danger either: While plastics are assessed to take up to several years to completely deteriorate, some of them separate a lot faster into small particles, which thus end up in the fish we eat. And the cycle continues.
Why do marine mammals eat plastic?
It’s estimated that 56% of the planet’s marine mammals including whale, dolphin and porpoise species have consumed plastic, however, to comprehend why you need to consider their reality and perspective of their surroundings as they do.
When a plastic bag is floating in the water in a balloon-like state, it can be easily mistaken for something like a squid of jelly, or other prey, to the seals, turtles and marine mammals that hunt these types of animals.
Research studies show that more than half of ocean turtles worldwide have ingested plastic. Some starve in the wake of doing as such, mistakenly believing they have eaten enough because their stomachs are full. On numerous seashores, plastic contamination is unavoidable to such an extent that it’s influencing turtles’ generation rates by changing the temperatures of the sand where hatching happens. An ongoing report found that ocean turtles that ingest only 14 bits of plastic have an expanded danger of death. The youthful are particularly in danger since they are not as specific as to what their seniors about what they eat and will in general float with flows, similarly as plastic does.
Even species that don’t recognize prey by sight aren’t protected or safe. Members of the porpoise species, toothed whales, and numerous types of dolphin, utilize a complex sonar-type strategy called echolocation to discover their prey. Unnatural items, for example, plastic waste confound this sonar and are incorrectly interpreted as food.
It’s conceivable that such a misstep prompted the demise of a pregnant pygmy sperm whale found beached on a seashore close to Melbourne, Australia. This whale was euthanised after unsuccessful rescue attempts, and an examination uncovered a stomach clogged up with ingested plastic.
What happens when marine mammals get affected by plastic pollution?
The alternate way that plastic pollution affects ocean mammals is through entanglement. Furthermore, ‘ghost fishing’ the phenomenon when abandoned fishing gear continues to trap unaware marine life is one of the leading causes of deaths.
An expected 640,000 tons of the 8 million tons of plastic that enter the ocean every year is ghost fishing equipment. This gear that is either intentionally casted off or washed from boats or shorelines.
Left to glide in the sea it proceeds with its fatal reason, entrapping unwary marine animals who venture too close.
Like humans, some marine mammals aren’t able to breathe underwater. This causes marine mammals to drown and suffocate underwater. Being trapped in fishing nets and plastic is another leading cause of death for our marine animals.
The outcomes from recuperated ghost nets are decimating and show that it isn’t just well-evolved creatures that are in danger. Here are the consolidated results of two ghost nets taken from the waters around the Tiwi Islands and Darwin individually:
- Three skeletons believed to be dolphins.
- Three dolphinfish (mahi-mahi).
- Two turtles.
- Nine blacktip reef sharks.
- Numerous reef fish.
Even if the animals are able to move while entangled, their chances of survival aren’t good.
More uncommon species, for example, the humpback dolphin is found in waters around Australia and Papua New Guinea. Even these animals have been seen with marine trash wrapped firmly around their bodies.
In the event that the plastic isn’t unstuck, it can cause deep cuts into their skin. This results in leaving the creatures open to the danger of fatal diseases or infection. This can happen to any animal.
Furthermore, plastic waste can support the development of microorganisms and pathogens. This is due to the algae that build upon plastic over time. This then makes marine animals are attracted to the microorganisms such as krill, more prone to danger and entanglement.
Another ongoing report where researchers presumed that corals often come into contact with plastic. In these events, corals have an 89 per cent possibility of contracting an infection. Whereas, corals that don’t only have a 4 per cent probability.
Action is required immediately to address this pressing issue of plastic pollution in our oceans. Researchers anticipate that the heaviness of sea plastics will surpass the entire mass of ALL of the fish in the oceans by 2050.
How can you help?
Marine warm-blooded creatures, obviously, don’t comprehend the dangers that plastics impose on them. This issue was made by humans, and no one but humans can fix it.
As you can see, plastic pollution affecting marine is a fact and the numbers do not lie, unfortunately. It isn’t fair for all the beloved marine mammals to be left to their demise this way. Plastic is an unnatural phenomenon to them. It disrupts their circle of life, chances for survival, birthing young and evolution. These are animals that we have grown to love, admire and study over our lifetime. We must take a stand today and let positive action create change. Share this blog to your socials, send them to your family, friends and colleagues and spread awareness for marine life. Changing this tide, making a difference and changing the environment for the better begins at an individual level:
- Recycle everything you can.
- Use your own cutlery, food containers and KeepCups when getting takeaway, rather than using disposable alternatives.
- Participate in beach or community clean-ups.
- Tell the waiter to ‘hold the straw’ when purchasing drinks.
Most importantly, pledge to #ReduceYourUse today.