‘Ocean plastic pollution’s shocking death toll on endangered animals’

“Nearly 700 species of marine animal have been recorded as having encountered human-made debris such as plastic and glass according to the most comprehensive impact study in more than a decade. are being harmed or killed by the trash we toss into the seas.”

Emily Gert at TakePart reports on a new review study which examined scientific reports and revealed that hundreds of species of animals are being harmed or killed by marine trash. And of the trash which includes metal, glass and paper, it is “plastic … [which] turned up in almost 92% of animal-meets-marine debris reports,” according to a study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin.

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Gall and Thompson (2015) report a total of 44,006 incidents of individual animals across 395 species that had eaten plastic bits or been tangled in plastic rope or netting. Around 80 percent of the time, these encounters injured or killed the animal.

Reports of entanglement in plastic include these critically endangered turtles:

  • 138 hawksbill turtles,
  • 73 Kemp’s Ridley turtles, and
  • 62 leatherback sea turtles.

30,896 reports were of marine mammals tangled in ropes or netting, including:

  • 215 Hawaiian monk seals (critically endangered)
  • 38 northern right whales (endangered),
  • 3,835 northern fur seals and
  • 3,587 California sea lions.

In 174 records, more than 150 species of seabirds were tangled in or eating plastic, including:

  • 3,444 northern fulmars,
  • 1,674 Atlantic puffins,
  • 971 Laysan albatross, and
  • 895 greater shearwaters.

“The researchers stressed that their findings were “an underestimate of the impacts of marine debris” on marine animals.

They noted, however, that least we’re past denying the problem.”

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