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Fork in turtles nose…

…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 snout.  And here are some more stupid animals killing themselves with plastic.

Now watch the video….

 

 

So easy to take your own cutlery – or at least use biodegradable.

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Straws Suck – just say no…

11181182_10153607820929653_743831970936423610_nThink 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.

It is pretty distressing and some adult language is used to express the shock and shame
Please reconsider. Do you really need a plastic straw? They don’t all end up in the bin. Some end up in the sea. Because plastic doesn’t biodegrade they last for ever. They  will be there for a very long time and they can do real damage to wild life.

If you do need a straw why not get a reusable one. There are lots of options here.

If you really need a disposable straw, get a biodegradable one – they do exist – try this link..

Its not just straws and turtles, plastic trash is implicated in the maiming and death of hundreds of animals, birds and marine life. Check out the reports here.

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Plastic in Plankton

Images of microplastic ingestion by plankton. From Cole, Matthew, et al. “Microplastic ingestion by zooplankton.” Environmental science & technology (2013).

plastic plankton

 

Laboratory studies that have shown ingestion in marine species.

Zooplankton: Cole et al. 2013
Invertebrates: Thompson et al. 2004; Besseling et al. 2013

 

 

And here it is on film

Cows killed by plastic

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 Animals & Nature website….

In December 2010, Karuna Society received 36 stray cattle from Anantapur town for permanent custody. Soon after their arrival one of the cows died. The post mortem conducted by our veterinary surgeon revealed that the animal’s rumen was full of plastic. After examination of all the animals, he advised us to start surgeries to remove plastics from their rumens to save their lives.

From the moment we received the “plastic cow” from Anantapur town, we realized that there are hundreds of cattle on the roads feeding on garbage, including plastic. They are sentenced to a slow and cruel death if they do not receive help in time. This is a cruelty most people are not aware of when they see the animals “peacefully” walking on the street. Think about big cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore where tens of thousands of animals are walking around with their bellies full of plastic.”

And its not just cows – all kinds of animals die from eating plastic

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What plastic should you feed your turtle

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 and Human Impacts on Sea Turtles  

*Green turtle (Uchida. 1990; Balazs 1985; Meylan 1978)

*Hawksbill turtle (Teas and Witzell. 1994; Hartog 1980)

Leatherback turtle (Balazs. 1985; Sadove and Morreale. 1990) *

The leatherback sea turtle, sometimes called the lute turtle, is the largest of all living turtles and is the fourth largest modern reptile behind three crocodilians. It is the only living species in the genus Dermochelys. Wikipedia

It is  the most commonly seen turtles in UK waters. and is especially at risk from plastic bag ingestion. as these bags. especially white or clear shopping bags closely resemble jellyfish. their primary prey. when suspended in the water column.

Plastic bags along with sheeting and plastic pieces are the predominant synthetic items found in the stomachs of turtles. An autopsy of a dead leatherback turtle washed up in Scotland in December 1994 reported that it had died as a result of starvation. caused by primary obstruction of the digestive tract by ingested plastic and metal litter. There was also a plastic bag lodged 40cm down the oesophagus (Godley et al. 1998).

A leatherback. washed ashore in Galloway in December 1998. was found in very poor condition with plastic bags obstructing its alimentary tract. The blockage included 1 white plastic bag. 1 black plastic bin liner. 3 transparent plastic bags. 1 green plastic bag. and 1 transparent plastic bag for chicken meat packaged by a US company.

Another leatherback found dead on Harlech beach in Wales in September 1988 had a piece of plastic blocking the entrance to the small intestine. and an autopsy established this could have contributed to the animal’s death (Eckert and Luginbuhl. 1988).

A study of dead stranded sea turtles on the coast of Brazil from 1997 to 1998 found the main items ingested were plastic bags. Of the 30 green turtles examined. white/transparent plastic bags were recorded in 14 (47%) of the green turtles found. Ingestion of anthropogenic debris accounted for the death of 4 (13.2%) of the green turtles examined (Bugoni et al. 2001).

Taken from adopt a beach

Pictures

For lots of photos of turtles impacted by plastic bags, go to sea turtles and plastic

Heres a film of a baby turtle eating plastic

And here’s a film of a deformed turtle – 6 pack plastic holders are responsible here

Other Ways Plastic Might Affect Turtles

Small pieces of latex and plastic sheeting were offered to sea turtles on different occasions and the turtles’ feeding behavior was noted,……………..blood glucose declined for 9 days following ingestion,indicating a possible interference in energy metabolism or gut function.

Read More

Turtle In The News

More

More reports on other animal deaths can be found here

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Bees collect polyurethane and polyethylene plastics as novel nest materials

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 of megachilid bee are described independently using different types of polyurethane and polyethylene plastics in place of natural materials to construct and close brood cells in nests containing successfully emerging brood.

The plastics collected by each bee species resembled the natural materials usually sought; Megachile rotundata, which uses cut plant leaves, was found constructing brood cells out of cut pieces of polyethylene-based plastic bags, and Megachile campanulae, which uses plant and tree resins, had brood cells constructed out of a polyurethane-based exterior building sealant. Although perhaps incidentally collected, the novel use of plastics in the nests of bees
could reflect ecologically adaptive traits necessary for survival in an increasingly human-dominated environment.

http://www.esajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1890/ES13-00308.1

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Dirty Beaches, Polluted Sea

Since the ocean is downstream, much of the plastic trash generated on land ends up there. ” It has been estimated that 6.4 million tons of debris end up in the world’s oceans every year and that some 60 to 80 percent of that debris, or 3.8 to 5 million tons, is improperly discarded plastic litter “. Encyclopedia Brittanica.

How Much Trash?

Upwards of 9 million tons of plastic enters the world’s oceans each year (at the going rate, there will be more plastic in the water than fish by 2050)

It has been estimated that around 80% of marine debris is from land-based sources and the remaining 20% is from ocean based sources. Greenpeace Report.

According to Stemming the Tide, a study released by the Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, 60 percent of plastic pollution in the ocean comes from the following countries;

  • China dumps an estimated 1.32 to 3.53 million tons of plastic which accounts for 30 percent of all of the plastic debris
  • Indonesia comes second with  0.48 and 1.29 million tons of plastic marine waste
  • Philippines in third place followed by Vietnam and then Sri Lanka.
  • You can read a good summary of this report here.

 

Trash Vortexes Or The 5 Gyres

Dotted around the world are  5 great trash vortexes. They are right out there in the middle of the sea and they are huge.   Vast expanses of debris  held in place by swirling underwater currents. Read more

See lots of pictures documenting plastic beach pollution here…

Dirty Beaches

Everyday tons of trash gets washed ashore. Many beaches look more like rubbish dumps than a place to go paddling which impacts on tourism and local businesses. Local authorities, industry and coastal communities spend approximately £14 million a year to clean up beach litter in England and Wales alone (Environment Agency, 2004).

Dirty Sea Bed

And that is the plastic that is washed up. In fact around 70 percent of discarded plastic sinks to the bottom. In the North Sea alone, Dutch scientists have found around 600,000 tonnes of plastic smothering the sea bed and the bottom feeders who live there.

Poisoned Sea Creatures

It is affects marine life in other ways. Here’s a troubling statistic “One-third of fish caught off the south-west coast of England have traces of plastic contamination from sources including sanitary products and carrier bags”. You can read more in the Plymouth University study, published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.

plastic sushiResearchers warn that ” garbage can injure creatures like sea sponges and impair their ability to breathe and absorb food. Moreover, chemicals in plastic can have toxic effects and alter gas exchange on the seafloor.” (live science)

Microplastic Pollution

Of course plastic breaks, tears and cracks. It weathers and sunlight makes it brittle, It falls apart – it degrades – but only into smaller pieces of plastic.

This degrading process can go on indefinitely it seems. Particles of plastic of 20 microns in diameter (a width thinner than a human hair) have been found in the oceans and are being found in increasing amounts. As reported by Dr Richard Thompson at the University of Plymouth is leading research into what happens when plastic breaks down in seawater and what effect it is having on the marine environment.

Other tiny bits of plastic come from synthetic clothes which shed fibres when being washed. And cosmetics!

Exfoliating scrubs can contain tiny plastic beads which are washed off and washed out to sea,

These tiny pieces of plastics are called micro plastic. They are being eaten by bottom feeders and are now entering the food chain.

Toxic plastic pellets

Plastic particles in the sea also attract persistent organic Pollutants (POPs). POPs are a small set of toxic chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods and accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals. Plastics have been shown to concentrate pollutants up to a million times their level in the surrounding seawater and then deliver them to the species that ingest them (Encyclopedia Brittanica). Bottom feeders eat the plastic pellets and so the POPs enter the food chain.

Then there are the chemicals used to make plastic. Many of these are toxic and can leach out. Research is showing that chemicals absorbed by the plastic are transferred to the fish.

plastic in fish

Islands in the stream

Floating plastic can carry animals and vegetation way beyond their natural habitat potentially leading to the introduction of invasive species into vulnerable habitats.

 

 

Boycott

People have been dumping rubbish in the sea for centuries. What has changed is the nature of the rubbish. Using a non-biodegradable product with a lifespan of centuries to make disposable items is crazy. Let’s stop using plastic to make everlasting litter. And rather then wait for governments to act or the clean up bill get even bigger I invite you to join me in a plastic boycott. You can find loads of plastic free alternatives listed here on my blog.

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Plastic in Fish

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 Total Environment, Volumes 476–477, 1 April

2014, Pages 622-633, ISSN 0048-9697,

(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969714000679)

Abstract: The accumulation of plastic debris in pelagic habitats of the subtropical gyres is a global phenomenon of growing concern, particularly with regard to wildlife. When animals ingest plastic debris that is associated with chemical contaminants, they are at risk of bioaccumulating hazardous pollutants. We examined the relationship

between the bioaccumulation of hazardous chemicals in myctophid fish associated with plastic debris and plastic contamination in remote and previously unmonitored pelagic habitats in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Using a published model, we defined three sampling zones where accumulated densities of plastic debris were predicted to differ.

Contrary to model predictions, we found variable levels of plastic debris density across all stations within the sampling zones.

Mesopelagic lanternfishes, sampled from each station and analyzed for bisphenol A (BPA), alkylphenols, alkylphenol ethoxylates, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), exhibited variability in contaminant levels, but this variability was not related to plastic debris density for most of the targeted compounds with the exception of PBDEs. We found that myctophid sampled at stations with greater plastic densities did have significantly larger concentrations of BDE#s 183 –209 in their tissues suggesting that higher brominated congeners of PBDEs, added to plastics as flame-retardants, are indicative of plastic contamination in the marine environment. Our results provide data on a previously unsampled pelagic gyre and highlight the challenges associated with characterizing plastic debris accumulation and associated risks to wildlife.

Keywords: Plastic debris; Myctophid; Polybrominated diphenyl ethers

(PBDEs); South Atlantic Gyre

More

More reports on other animal deaths can be found here

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squirrels eating plastic

What squirrels should be eating … and what they are eating. Thanks to  Harry Shuldman for this great picture …..

squirrel in Wash. Sq. Park forcing a wadded up plastic bag down its throat

In his own words… “squirrel in Wash. Sq. Park forcing a wadded up plastic bag down its throat. I tried to shoo him away to stop him from eating the bag, but he was determined to finish it. This is why you need to throw your trash in the trash!”

Of course, as we would say, boycott the filthy stuff.

Every year plastic is implicated in the death and crippling of animals worldwide

Check out the Flickr Plastic Is Rubbish photo pool.. for some really fantastic pictures of plastic polltuion.

More dirty pictures can be found here –  plastic pollution picture index g

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Plastic kills and injures animals

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.

Plastic is just as lethal on land:  camels die from plastic “rocks” in their intestines and elephants and cows have been found with internal blockages caused by having eaten plastic.

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.

Read the reports here

...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 ...
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 ...
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
Since the ocean is downstream, much of the plastic trash generated on land ends up there. " It has been estimated that 6.4 million tons of debris end up in the world’s oceans every year and that some 60 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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
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Camels & Plastic

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 Central Veterinary Research Laboratory in Dubai told English-language daily Gulf News.

Rocks of calcified plastic weighing up to 60 kilograms are found in camel stomachs every day, said Wernery, whose clinic conducts hundreds of post-mortems on camels, gazelles, sheep and cows.

Wernery said the curious animals nibble on plastic bags that are thrown from car windows or dumped in the desert by campers and day-trippers.

The veteran animal doctor told Gulf News that the animals ingest plastic bags and ropes which then calcify in their stomach. The heavy rocks or balls fill up the stomach and make it impossible for the animals to eat, causing them to eventually die of starvation.

“Camel calves are the worst affected because they are so curious,” he added.

Calling for an end to the “fatal pollution,” Wernery said residents must stop polluting the desert with plastic.

“I’ve been here for twenty years and first noticed this about fifteen years ago,” said Wernery, adding that the situation is getting worse by the year.

Wernery said he was shocked after a recent visit to a desert area in the northern UAE emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, where owners had dumped the bodies of animals that had died from plastic ingestion.

“I counted more than 30 carcasses and I named the place ‘Death Valley’,” he said.

Taken fromalarabiya

Lots more on plastic in animals here

Whales & Dolphins

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 the entrance to the stomach was completely blocked with a cylinder of tightly packed shredded black plastic binliner bags and fishing twine.

It is believed that this made it difficult for the animal to forage and feed effectively. This would have a biologically significant impact on the animal’s ability to survive. Full analysis of the stomach contents is currently being undertaken. Cuviers Beaked whales usually prey on squid and catch their prey through the action of suction. It is believed that Cuviers Beaked whales mistake plastic bags in the water column for their prey species squid and ingest them.

In previous years a number of Cuviers Beaked whales stranded in Scotland have been found to have plastic bags in their stomachs. For any more details on this case please contact the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust at 28 Main Street. Tobermory. Isle of Mull. Scotland. PA75 6NU. 01688 302620. email info@hwdt.org”

More reports

*Harbour Porpoise (Walker and Coe. 1990) 

Pygmy Sperm Whale (Tarpley. 1990)

In April 2002 a dead Minke whale washed up on the Normandy coast. An investigation found its stomach contained 800g of plastic bags and packaging including two English supermarket plastic bags (GECC. 2002).

More

More reports on other animal deaths can be found here