By Founder and President Kurt Lieber
An article that was published on January 7th by National Geographic reveals just how pervasive the problem of ocean debris truly is. A few stats from it are truly agonizing:
• 56% of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) have plastic in their stomachs.
• All sperm whales that one scientist has necropsied, had lots of fishing net, rope and plastic trash in their stomachs. One poor guy had 400 lbs of this garbage in its stomach!
The sei whale featured in the article died from starvation because of a DVD case it had ingested. "A necropsy revealed the animal had swallowed a shard of rigid, black plastic [DVD case] that lacerated its stomach, preventing it from feeding. The weakened whale also had been struck by a ship and suffered a fractured vertebrae."
And it is not just the animals that feed at the surface or deep in the water column that are being affected. Gray whales feed by scooping up sand from the ocean floor and then filter out the living organisms through their baleen and swallow it down. They ingest massive amounts of small plastic particles along with those organisms.
Our ODA volunteers cleanup trash wherever we find it: on top of the water, under the surface, on the dock, in the parking lot, or wherever we may go! We organize beach cleanups in addition to working with harbor masters to do major cleanups where boats are docked.
If you are like us at ODA, and want to prevent any more senseless and agonizing deaths due to plastics, PLEASE take action. Get involved with cleanups in your area. Whether it be with a coastal beach cleanup, or along a river or stream bed. Get out there and stop this stuff from entering our waterways. Even in our cities you can help our wildlife by picking up all that gross trash that lies on the sidewalks and in the gutter.
All water runs downhill. Let’s not stand by passively and allow our throw away plastics to flow with that water!