Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wildlife in the Waste

In previous posts I have explained what ocean pollution actually is and what it mainly consists of, I have detailed just two of thousands of locations that are being effected, and the effort some people are making to put an end to this problem. As a final push to encourage you to reduce your use of plastic and to recycle more efficiently, I will give you some insight on lives the plastic pollution is having the biggest effect on. It is not humans, for we are the ones who produce it- it’s the helpless creatures of the ocean who reside in and near these wasted waters.
Some obvious effects on animals:
-          Plastics and other garbage can be mistaken as food that will choke, poison or make the creature think they are full when there is no nutritional value what so ever.
-          Discarded fishing nets that are aimlessly floating continue to catch sea-creatures and enable them to get loose or to be rescued. This is called ghost fishing.
-          Mammals and other animals can get caught in the trash causing potential strangling.
According to the whio.edu, The National Marine Mammal Laboratory reported in the 70’s, when this problem first starting being noticed, that plastic entanglement was the cause of death for more than 40,000 seals a year. Within the span of 30 years, the population of Northern Fur Seals declined by 50 percent. If the entanglement wasn’t the cause of death, exhaustion, starvation or indigestion was.  Listed below are some of the species most endangered due to debris:
  • Loggerhead Turtle
  • Southern Right Whale
  • Blue Whale
  • Tristan Albatross
  • Northern Royal Albatross
  • Gould's Petrel
There are also about fourteen species that are on the Vulnerable Species List, most of them being either a specie of turtle or albatross. The World Wildlife Foundation reported that nearly 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year by plastic trash. During a clean-up done by volunteers of the Ocean Conservancy in 2008, they found 443 entangled animals, and of that, only 288 were alive and later released.
 It is unfortunate that these animals are helpless in their defense against the trash. Just because we may not directly feel the effects of this pollution doesn’t mean that it is not damaging lives.

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