When a boat of fishermen, north of Sydney, Australia, first noticed a whale nudging the side of their boat, they did what most young people would do first: they took a “selfie”! However, after a few quick photos, one of the fishermen noticed a fishing line and plastic bag entangled in the whale’s mouth. “It was right on his lip … he seemed like he wanted it off”, one of the fishermen reported. Other fishermen in the area attempted to pull the rubbish from the whale’s mouth, but it was a man named Mr. Iskendarian who successfully freed the whale. Afterwards, the whale was seen slapping the water, in an apparent show of appreciation and happiness.
This case is yet another example of marine debris and the harmful effect it has on aquatic life. Most people have the misconception that marine debris consists of just a few pieces of rubbish scattered along beaches that is of no harm to anyone. Unfortunately, this is not the case. This type of pollution has become a pervasive problem affecting all of the world’s oceans. It is known to be the cause of injuries or death of numerous marine animals and birds, either because they become entangled in it or they mistake it for prey, eating it. Studies show that 44 percent of all seabirds have plastic in and around their bodies
Marine debris that is known to cause entanglement includes derelict fishing gear such as nets, mono-filament line, also six-pack rings, and fishing bait box strapping bands. This debris can cause death by drowning, suffocation, many other symptoms of reduced feeding efficiency, and injuries caused by plastic pollution. Particularly affected are seals and sea lions, probably due to their very inquisitive nature of investigating objects in their environment
Attempts to address the problem of marine debris range from international legislation to prevent ships from dumping plastic at sea and campaigns to prevent losses due to poor industrial practice. Beach and seabed clean-up operations and public awareness campaigns have also been attempted. Plastic debris originates from a wide and diverse range of sources. Estimates suggest that much of what is found at sea originates on the land. The effect of coastal littering and dumping is compounded by vectors such as rivers and storm drains discharging litter from inland urban areas.
Local authorities, non-government organizations and volunteers have all contributed towards coastal clean-up operations throughout the world.
This is all good, but on a daily basis there is much that we can do to keep US….and THEM healthy!!!
There is an organization whose sole focus is the reduction of Plastic Pollution. The Plastic Pollution Coalition has developed the following 4Rs Pledge for us all to take, to make our personal commitment more defined.
TAKE THE 4Rs PLEDGE
REFUSE disposable plastic whenever and wherever possible. Choose items that are not packaged in plastic, and carry your own bags, containers and utensils. Say ‘no straw, please.’
REUSE durable, non-toxic straws, utensils, to-go containers, bottles, bags, and other everyday items. Choose glass, paper, stainless steel, wood, ceramic and bamboo over plastic.
REDUCE your plastic footprint. Cut down on your consumption of goods that contain excessive plastic packaging and parts. If it will leave behind plastic trash, don’t buy it.
RECYCLE what you can’t refuse, reduce or reuse. Pay attention to the entire life cycle of items you bring into your life, from source to manufacturing to distribution to disposal.
If you are interested in learning more about ocean plastic pollution and what is being done about it, please visit: Plastic Pollution Coalition.