A blog set out to explore, archive & relate plastic pollution happening world-wide, while learning about on-going efforts and solutions to help break free of our addiction to single-use plastics & sharing this awareness with a community of clean water lovers everywhere!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Plastic waste responsible for nearly 92% life-threatening cases in marine life

Published in Customs Today Report February 21, 2015

 Plastic waste responsible for nearly 92% life-threatening cases in marine life

MEXICO: According to a new study thousands of individual animals from hundreds of marine species including every kind of sea turtle and around half of marine mammals have encountered plastic, glass, and other garbage in the ocean.

Often the encounters are fatal. In some cases they may be helping push some beleaguered species towards extinction in the wild.

Those are some of the findings in the most comprehensive look at the effects of debris on marine wildlife since 1997. Co-authors Sarah Gall and Richard Thompson, marine biologists at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom, looked in 340 different publications for reports about animal encounters with marine trash.

They found that 693 species of marine animals had some sort of interaction with human-made debris, with 17 percent of them listed with some degree of vulnerability to extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list.

Sometimes these encounters involved glass, metal, or paper. But plastic surged past those materials as a hazard to ocean wildlife, turning up in almost 92 percent of animal-meets-marine debris reports, according to the study published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.

All together there were 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.

There were reports of 138 hawksbill turtles, 73 Kemp’s Ridley turtles, and 62 leatherback sea turtles tangled in plastic. All three are listed as critically endangered—one step below extinct in the wild—on the IUCN red list.

Marine mammals as a group proved especially vulnerable to marine plastic debris, with 30,896 of the reports involving these animals tangled in ropes or netting. They included 215 Hawaiian monk seals, a critically endangered species, and 38 endangered northern right whales, as well as 3,835 northern fur seals and 3,587 California sea lions.

Among seabirds, Gall and Thompson found 174 records of individual birds from over 150 species being tangled in or eating plastic. They included 3,444 northern fulmars 1,674 Atlantic puffins, 971 Laysan albatross, and 895 greater shearwaters.

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