Plastic: A deadly meal for marine mammals

Plastic: A deadly meal for marine mammals

2014 / cetaceans / non research

Plastic: A deadly meal for marine mammals!Plastic-A-deadly-meal-for-marine-mammals/c8p8/73889687-C21D-48C5-A02B-A10A46AA0861

Plastic: A deadly meal for marine mammals
7 Feb 2014

Everyone has heard of plastic being bad for marine life, but how bad is
it? Since plastic is lightweight, strong, durable and buoyant, if not
properly discarded, it can enter waterways and eventually the marine
environment, where it stays for a long time and becomes a accidental
snack for aquatic species.

It is estimated that every year 20 million tons of plastic litter enters
the ocean, and approximately 100,000 marine mammal individuals are
affected by the ingestion of large pieces of plastic. However, unknown
number of cases remain undiscovered as many of these animals perish in
the open ocean. The most vulnerable marine biota are whales, dolphins
and porpoises. Sperm whales are especially prone since their feeding
mechanism resembles a vacuum cleaner: they suck the food in their mouth.
And unfortunately, sperm whales cannot distinguish plastic bags from one
of their favourite diet – squids. Over the years a number of plastic
pollution related whale deaths have been reported, and two of the most
media-highlighted occurred in the Mediterranean Sea. In 2012, a sperm
whale was found washed up with more than 100 pieces plastic bags in its
stomach at Mykonos Island in Greece; and in 2013, a sperm whale was also
found with 17kg of plastic waste in its gut in Spain. In both cases, the
name of the plastic bag suppliers could still be read after necropsy!

Plastic: a deadly meal for marine mammals
by Wanda Bodnar on 15 February 2014

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