Our dependence on plastics are almost woven to every facet of our lifestyle. What’s worse, despite the studies that have been published and data that are available about the harmful effects of plastics, there is seem to no end to our dependence. Among the animals on earth, marine organisms some of the most vulnerable organisms to plastic pollution because of the amount of waste that ends up in various bodies of water, both marine and freshwaters.
Here are some animals that are vulnerable to plastic solution:
Seabirds like Albatrosses, Seagull and shear waters are prone to consume marine plastics. What’s more alarming are the increasing incidents of bird carcasses that have been found to have plastics in their stomach. Some plastics are buoyant and have been to be particularly attractive to seabirds. A study was done that by year 2050, almost all species of seabirds will have more or less have plastic in their system. Some of the plastics that have been found in seabirds are plastic bottle caps, micro-plastics, and clothing fibers.
The problem with marine plastics goes beyond than sea turtles. Large plastics in general are problematic, but when it comes to fishes and other marine organisms, micro-plastics poses a much bigger problem. Microplastics are smaller in size so therefore, a lot of organisms, like fish are capable of ingesting it through their mouth or gills. The problem with micro-plastics is since they don’t degrade for many years, they can either accumulate inside the body of the animal. This can cause a wide variety to problems including inflammation, internal trauma like micro tears and chemical poisoning. In some extreme cases, nano particles have been studied to have a behavioral effects due to plastics ending up in fish’s brain.
Probably the poster child for plastic awareness, sea turtles are also vulnerable to plastic waste. One of their staple diet are eating jellyfish and that’s where one of their problem begins with plastics. Plastic bags that weren’t disposed properly sometimes end up in various bodies of water, including oceans and they are often gets mistaken for jellyfish. In a study done by the The University of Queensland, they found out that 52% of the world wide have ingested or eaten a type of plastic.
Whales and other marine mammals
With their large mouth, whales will accidentally ingest large amounts of plastics. This could get lodged in some its body parts or accumulate their gut.
The fight for plastic pollution is still an uphill battle and the effects it has on the environment are just the tip of the the great pacific garbage patch. Plastic pollution is a global problem that everyone should really start participating on how to mitigate its effects. Maybe start exploring plastic alternatives like reusable containers, but most importantly, follow the 3r’s. Reduce Reuse and Recycle.