Sea creatures mistake soft plastic for jellyfish
A young sea turtle, found on a beach in Australia, had starved to death because she had 317 pieces of plastic in her stomach.
Australian Seabird Rescue volunteers said it was the worst example of plastic ingestion they had seen in 15 years.
A new study from Earthwatch in Queensland looked at the guts of over 120 dead turtles found in Moreton Bay. Dr. Kathy Townsend found plastic rubbish in over 30 per cent of them.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Townsend describes what happens to the turtles when they eat the plastic. As bits of plastic get stuck in their digestive systems, it mixes with food and decomposes, creating gas, literally inflating the turtles like balloons so they are unable to dive. They can’t feed or avoid boats.
“It also means that they basically become very dehydrated,” Townsend said. “And they starve to death, and this can last for months.”
SEAPLEX scientists examine fish and plastic waste in the North Pacific
Another study – this one by the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (SEAPLEX) – found that fish in the North Pacific are ingesting plastic at a rate of roughly 12,000 to 24,000 tons per year.
What you can do: Avoid soft plastic, including plastic bags. Use your own reusable shopping bags.