We are all aware of the plastic problem, but sometimes we forget just how much our practices can influence and destroy wildlife. There has been a “plastic craze” on social media lately, and stories of plastics in whales have become more noticeable. You may have read recently of some pretty shocking stories of dead whales washed ashore with large amounts of plastic in their bodies. Earlier this year, there was a New York Times article about a dead whale in the Philippines that was found to have nearly 88 pounds of plastics in its stomach. Darrell Blatchley talks about how incredulous he and others were when pulling the trash from the whale during the necropsy. Blatchley is part of the D’Bone Collector Museum, which had been called to deal with the whale. The Museum later listed the contents of the plastic in the whale to raise awareness of just how badly plastics can harm animal life. In the end, it was determined that plastic was the cause of death. Ingesting plastic gives the whale a false sense of fullness and essentially it ends up starving and disoriented.
This isn’t just a singular case; research in the UK found plastic present in 50 marine mammals that washed ashore February of this year, and a pregnant whale filled with plastic washed up dead in Sardinia in early April. The plastic problem and the hurt it has been causing whales and marine life is nothing new. In 2016, whales stranded in the North Sea were found to have ingested huge amounts of plastic, including car parts. While the plastic in these whales was not their ultimate demise, it was clear how plastic could eventually harm them. In November of 2018, a dead whale in Indonesia found with copious amounts of plastic in its stomach sparked a debate of human usages of plastic.
While what I have described obviously sounds quite grim and hopeless, there is actually hope in for marine life and whales. There are numerous local and global organization and people doing amazing work to protect and conserve the oceans. One of these organizations located in the UK called Sky, is a responsible business working to spread awareness of ocean pollution. They have an education campaign for students to raise awareness of plastics in oceans, as well as a business focused on investing on re-using plastics and working to decrease their environmental footprint. Another organization called the Sustainable Ocean Alliance also works to raise awareness about protecting the oceans through empowering youth. National Geographic also has a campaign called “Planet or Plastic”, which is trying to raise awareness of ocean pollution and plastics. The campaign is showcasing positive changes surrounding plastic use around the globe to protect the oceans. You can take their pledge by clicking here. A new group here in Halifax called Stop Trashing It works to motivate individuals to change their plastic consumption through education. I encourage you check out this great organization and take the pledge on their website as well.
Do you know of any other groups or initiatives that are working to help stop ocean plastics pollution?
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