Imagine that you are constantly eating but slowly dying of starvation. Every day, hundreds of marine mammals, fish, birds, and sea turtles face this danger when they mistake plastic debris for food. Why do these animals eat plastic? Does plastic look like food to them?
Imagine that you are constantly eating but slowly dying of starvation. Every day, hundreds of marine mammals, fish, birds, and sea turtles face this danger when they mistake plastic debris for food. Why dot hese animals eat plastic? Does plastic look like food to them?
Plastic does not only look like food, but it also smells, feels, and sounds like food. According to a study from the University of California, marine plastic waste releases an aroma of a sulfurous compound that some marine animals have relied on for thousands of years to guide them to find food. Many marine species suffer a horrible death after ingesting plastic.Here are 5 of the many marine animals in danger from ocean pollution:
1. Sea Turtles
Like many other marine species, sea turtles misinterpret plastic garbage for food and clog their digestive systems. More than 80% of this plastic comes from our beaches and streets, which leaks into the environment. As a result, thousands of sea turtles mistakenly ingest plastics as food. Leatherback turtles, in particular, have trouble distinguishing between floating jellyfish (which is their main diet) and floating plastic bags. Plastic bags, balloons, bottles, and food wrappers makeup most of the trash found in the guts of sea turtles.
2. Seals and Sea Lions
The population of seals and sea lions is dropping rapidly worldwide, and plastic pollution is the main reason. Many seals and sealions are injured or killed due to the entanglement of plastic bags or packing bands. Moreover, young seals and sea lions enjoy playing with marine debris without knowing the potential of injury. However, when they become wrapped around or trapped in a seal's or sea lion's neck, the wound can be horrific and expose the animal to infection, potentially causing death..
Plastic debris has negatively impacted seabirds such as gulls and pelicans. Every year, millions of marine bird species die as a result of plastic pollution. Seabirds are prone to have mistaken garbage for food, such as dead fish, carrion, or insects, yet, their bodies cannot breakdown plastic. As a result, it causes ingestion or entanglement, leading to injury or death.
Source: The Pew Charitable Trust
Microplastic pollution is putting fish in danger. According to The New York Times, a recent study discovered how much plastic ends up in fish. Between 12,000 and 24,000tons of plastic end up in fish in the North Pacific Ocean alone. According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego, this represents 9% ofall fish found in the North Pacific.
Of course, plastic pollution has a massive impact on fish species. Still, unlike the other marine animals on our list, this is the only one humans consume.Moreover, according to several studies, economically important fish such as brown trout, cisco, and perch have swallowed microfibers at some point in their lives.
5. Whales and Dolphins
Source: Awesome Ocean
Even the smallest pieces of plastic, fishing lines, or nets can impact the ocean's most incredible species. For example, whales and dolphins frequently mistake marine trash for food, choking when swallowed debris. They also often become entangled in fishing lines. As a result, they can easily harm themselves or drown if the lines are not removed. According to a study, hundreds of cetaceans were damaged by plastic debris in the previous two decades.
It's never too late to start contributing to the reduction of ocean pollution. Knowledge is power, and the more people are aware of the issue, the more probable it is that more people will implement actual change. So let's keep track of how much trash you generate, make sure it goes in the garbage or recycling, and never litter.