It has long been known that plastic products dumped in the world’s oceans represent a deadly threat to marine life. Now, a new study shows that plastic garbage also injures and kills whales and dolphins, too.
According to Mother Nature Network:
Entanglement in plastic bags and fishing gear have long been identified as a threat to sea birds, turtles and smaller cetaceans. For large ocean-dwelling mammals, however, ingestion of such refuse is also emerging as a serious cause of disability and death, experts say.
The same article cites several cases in which whales have been found injured or dead from trying to ingest garbage items, mistaking them for food:
In 2008, two sperm whales stranded on the California coast were found to have a huge amount — 450 pounds in one alone — of fish nets and other synthetic debris in their guts. One of the 50-foot animals had a ruptured stomach, and the other, half-starved, had a large plug of wadded plastic blocking its digestive tract. Seven male sperm whales stranded on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy in 2009 were stuffed with half-digested squids beaks, fishing hooks, ropes and plastic objects. In 2002, a dead minke whale washed up on the Normandy coast of France had nearly a tonne of plastic in its stomach, including bags from two British supermarkets.
One of the best things we can do to cut down on the plastic garbage that finds its way into the ocean is to buy reusable shopping bags. Reusable bags are very durable, so you can use them for years. And the best part is that they won’t end up in the oceans because you’re not throwing them away. You can choose from many different styles, sizes, prices, and material. The Huffington Post has a good article and a slide show about some of the best reusable bags it’s staff has tried.