Saving our planet; one bag at a time

April 3, 2008

Plastic bags kill marine creatures every day

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 6:36 pm

Plastic bags kill whales

This Cuvier’s beaked whale was recently found dead washed up on a British beach. Its stomach was clogged with plastic bags.

Marine biologists believe it is another victim of our careless, plastic bag culture.

Cuvier’s beaked whales are reclusive mammals.

Although they are found in almost every sea in the world, little is known about their behaviour in the wild.

The whales, sometimes known as goose-beaked whales, are around 23ft long and range in colour from brown to purplish black.

The creature’s forehead slopes to a beak - hence their name - and their head is often visible as they swim near the surface.

But while they rarely come across people, and stay away from the coasts, they are still affected by the plastic rubbish we allow to fall into the seas.

Cuvier’s feed on squid, using sophisticated sonar to spot the animals floating in the depths, hundreds of miles off the coast.

Once they have spotted their prey, they dive down and suck in the water around it and sieve it though their mouths.

As the water is sieved in their mouths, any large objects are trapped in their stomachs.

Dr Peter Stevick, scientist with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, said: “The problem is that when a whale comes across a floating-plastic bag, they mistake it for a squid.

“The bags get stuck in their guts and they can be deadly.”

By the time the adult whale was discovered near Kilninian, Mull, off the West Coast of Scotland, it had been dead in the sea for several days.

A post-mortem examination carried out on the beach found that of the plastic bags or fragments of bag in its stomach, some were large dustbin liners, others the sort handed out by supermarkets.

“This is an animal that feeds 100 or 200 miles off shore - if not further. And yet its stomach was filled with plastic. It’s an indicator of just how widespread this plastic pollution is.”

Plastic waste in the oceans kills around 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals, turtles and other large animals each year.

An estimated one million seabirds also die from strangulation, choking or starvation after eating plastic that has been floating on the sea.

What a sad commentary on society, that we allow such tragedies to occur just for the convenience of carrying our shopping home in a plastic bag. Particularly when attractive and economical alternatives abound in the shape of reusable cloth bags.

3 Comments »

  1. It is tragic, you’re right, Ihate the thought of how plastics are damaging so much wildlife. I have two fabric bags that I always carry with me in my handbag so I avoid plastic carrier bags but packaging is a real problem even in wholefood shops

    Comment by Crafty Green Poet — April 23, 2008 @ 6:33 pm

  2. Good for you! One day I hope we can find a solution to the excessive food packaging also.

    Comment by rajiv — April 26, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

  3. My English not so good but thank for lovely site with information I looking for and need also.

    Comment by hdfc life insurance — July 30, 2008 @ 9:05 am

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