Plastic in the environment presents a danger to animals in a number of ways.
First many animals eat plastic trash mistaking it for food. In March 2013 a sperm whale washed up on Spain’s South Coast was found to consumed 59 different plastic items including transparent sheeting used to build greenhouses in Almeria and Grenada, plastic bags, nine meters of rope, hosepipe, flower pots, and a plastic spray canister. Cause of death was intestinal blockage.
Turtles, fish and seabirds all eat plastic and suffer as a consequence.
Even if the plastic doesn’t kill outright, a diet of plastic has no nutritional value. Animals that eat plastic are found to be underdeveloped and underweight. “Dr. Jennifer Lavers found 270 pieces of plastic inside an 80 day old Flesh-footed shearwater chick last year. She’s also found that 100% of this species on Lord Howe Island contain plastic. Populations have already declined by more than 50% in the past 35 years. We need to find out more, before it’s too late.”
Micro bits of plastic may be killing the tiny creatures. Traditional plastics degrade rather than biodegrade, which means they simply break up and fall apart into smaller pieces. The plastic has not changed its structure as such – merely fragmented. These particles are called micro plastics and are being found in the oceans in ever-increasing quantities. Aquatic microorganisms such as plankton can also mistake micro plastic particles for food and subsequently be killed by the adverse effects of the particle on the organism’s digestive tract.
Then there are the as yet unknown consequences of eating plastic. Sea bourne plastic particles can both release chemicals (used in the manufacture of the product) and attract toxins. Research indicates that toxins such as persistent organic pollutants POPs (present in the sea water) stick to the plastic creating a toxic pellet. Marine animals eat these pellets. Researchers and scientists are becoming increasingly concerned that “this provides a feasible pathway to transfer attached pollutants and additive chemicals into their tissues” which will have a negative effect on the animals who consume them. This research on lugworms indicates that there are.
Persistent organic pollutants POPs are stored in the fatty tissues of animals and are passed on up through the food chain. They are bioaccumulate which has implications for the animals who consume the animals who consume the plastic! The chemicals absorbed by the plastic are transferred to the fish and possibly the consumer of the fish.
Plastic fishing nets are also extremely dangerous. Huge nets (between 75 feet to over 30 miles in length and sometimes several hundred meters deep) can and do get lost at sea. These ghost nets entangle animals who die of starvation. Modern synthetic (plastic) netting can sustain this cycle indefinitely while drifting over a vast range; ghost nets from around the Pacific have washed ashore on beaches as far apart as Alaska and the outer Hawaiian Islands.
...seems like those dumb turtles just cant stop damaging themselves on our everlasting litter. This one has a plastic fork stuck in its nose. It was only last month I reported on a turtle with a straw in its ... Read More
Think refusing plastic straws is a pointless gesture? Saying no a ridiculous over reaction by the plastic free killjoys. Have a look at this gruesome video of a plastic straw being removed from a turtles snout and think again ... Read More
Images of microplastic ingestion by plankton. From Cole, Matthew, et al. “Microplastic ingestion by zooplankton.” Environmental science & technology (2013). Laboratory studies that have shown ingestion in marine species. Zooplankton: Cole et al. 2013 Invertebrates: Thompson et al. 2004; ... Read More
Cows hanging about on street corners eating plastic bags. Doesn't do them any good at all and it is estimated that thousand dies each month from accidently ingesting the bad stuff. The following is Taken from the Karuna Society for ... Read More
Plastic bags have been found in stomachs of the following marine species. several of which are classified as endangered 2013 Loggerhead turtle with links to earlier reports by Plotkin and Amos 1990; Bjorndal and Bolten. 1994) 2001 Marine Debris ... Read More
http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES13-00308.1 Abstract: Plastic waste pervades the global landscape. Although adverse impacts on both species and ecosystems have been documented, there are few observations of behavioral flexibility and adaptation in species, especially insects, to increasingly plastic-rich environments. Here, two species ... Read More
Most plastics are oil derived and non biodegradable. Which means plastics last for decades, centuries possibly forever (read more here about plastic how it is made and the different types). We are using this everlasting product to make items ... Read More
Blackfin tuna (Manooch and Mason. 1983) Chelsea M. Rochman, Rebecca L. Lewison, Marcus Eriksen, Harry Allen, Anna-Marie Cook, Swee J. Teh, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in fish tissue may be an indicator of plastic contamination in marine habitats, Science of The ... Read More
What squirrels should be eating ... and what they are eating. Thanks to Harry Shuldman for this great picture ..... In his own words... "squirrel in Wash. Sq. Park forcing a wadded up plastic bag down its throat. I tried to shoo him ... Read More
Plastic in the environment presents a danger to animals in a number of ways. First many animals eat plastic trash mistaking it for food. In March 2013 a sperm whale washed up on Spain’s South Coast was found to consumed 59 ... Read More
Every year hundreds of camels die each year from ingesting plastic bags. "Every day we have a camel that has died in a camel camp. One in every two camels dies from plastic," Dr. Ulrich Wernery, scientific director at the ... Read More
Cuviers Beaked Whale (2) Originally uploaded by Dennis@Stromness The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust took various skin and blubber samples and removed the stomach for further study by the Scottish Agricultural College. On initial removal it was found that ... Read More
Wild life vet Jerry Haigh writes “Meanwhile three elephants in Chobe National Park died after eating trash from the Chobe landfill.” A senior Wildlife Biologist, Mr Keagapetse Mosugelo said the elephants died as a result of plastics they ate ... Read More
Black footed Albatross (Sileo et al 1990) Northern Fulmar (van Franeker. 1985. 2003. 2005) Herring Gull Great Black-backed Gull (Day et al. 1985) A large Sugar Gum tree branch fell down in the local school over summer. I had ... Read More
Click here for the slide show A Dutch study in the North Sea of fulmar seabirds concluded 95 per cent of the birds had plastic in their stomachs. More than 1600 pieces were found in the stomach of one ... Read More