Some of the most magnificent creatures live beneath the blue ocean water. But sadly, these animals’ very lives are being threatened — not by natural predators like the shark, but rather by trash discarded by careless humans and an overabundance of plastic pollution.
Hundreds of thousands of marine mammals like whales and sea turtles, along with more than one million seabirds, perish every year from pollution in the ocean and by the ingestion of or entanglement in debris. Environmentalists and scientists have identified five major ocean gyres worldwide, reports SeeTurtles.com.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a Texas-sized island of plastic containing 3.5 million tons of trash floating in the Pacific Ocean.
This isn’t just a problem in the oceans surrounding the U.S. A sea turtle was found bloated and lifeless on a Thailand beach. Veterinarian Kirin Sornpipatcharoen was summoned to Somprasong Beach to examine the sea turtle and determine the cause of death for this incredible five-year-old animal.
Kirin believed the sea turtle died out at sea before washing up on the sand, reported the Daily Mail. After examining the body, the veterinary discovered several pieces of plastic inside the stomach of the 18-pound sea turtle, including plastic bags and food wrappers.
“Most of the pieces looked like the tentacles of jellyfish, which might have confused the turtle into believing that they were food,” Kirin said. “We’re sure that the plastic in the stomach contributed to or caused the tragic death of the turtle.”
Researchers believe that for every 2.2 pounds of edible plankton in the ocean, 13.2 pounds of plastic drowns them out. Marine animals such as the five-year-old sea turtle are confused and end up eating inedible — and deadly — items.
Many restaurants and other entities have banned the use of plastic straws because of the hazard they pose to animals and their contribution to overflowing landfills. Volunteers with Ocean conservancy have picked up more than half a million straws and stirrers to date.
The plastic pollution in oceans concerns environmentalists, scientists and researchers, including Nicholas Mallos, senior director of Trash Free Seas, Ocean Conservancy.
“Plastics now pollute all dimensions of our oceans from the sea surface to the seafloor, on remote beaches and in Arctic sea ice. The impact ocean plastics have on marine species is well documented, but increasingly scientists are concerned about the potential threat of plastics to species at the top of the marine food chain: humans.”
Ocean Conservancy organizes international coastal cleanups, where approximately 12 million volunteers from more than 150 countries join forces to collect more than 220 million pounds of trash. According to Ocean Conservancy, 2.5 billion metric tons of solid waste is produced worldwide, with 275 million metric tons coming from plastic.
An estimated two billion people residing, working and playing within 30 miles of the coasts create 100 million metric tons of coastal plastic waste. Every year, eight million metric tons of that plastic finds its way into the ocean and sadly, into the stomachs of animals like the sea turtle whose limp and lifeless body washed ashore in Thailand.
Sea turtles are supposed to live between 30 and 50 years. This one was just a young one, only five years old. But plastic pollution snuffed out its life all too soon. Watch the heartbreaking video below of this poor creature and think twice about how much plastic you use.
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Source: Daily Mail