I never thought I would say Sea Turtles could poop plastic! It’s a statement I wish I never had to say; however, that is not the case. The state was made in a recent report authored by Collette Wabnitz, PhD (UBC) and Speak Up for the Blue Ocean Leader Wallace “J” Nichols. n 2009, marine biologists with Disney’s Animal Programs in Melbourne Beach, Florida, discovered a green sea turtle that was having trouble digesting food. They found that a piece of plastic had lodged in the turtle’s gastrointestinal tract. When biologists removed the obstruction, the turtle defecated 74 foreign objects in the subsequent month. Among the items documented were four types of latex balloons, five different types of string, nine different types of soft plastic, four different types of hard plastic, a piece of carpet-like material, and two tar balls to boot. What is the world coming to?
The report goes on to state the percent (0.2-0.3%) of plastic bags used which end up in the Oceans kill thousands of Sea Turtles, which are classed as Endangered according to the International Union of Conservation Network’s Red List, and hundreds of thousands of marine mammals, fish, and seabirds. The percentage of plastic bags seem small; however, it actually represents hundreds of millions of bags each year. If you think about it, plastic bags floating in the Ocean look similar to jellyfish, a favourite food of Sea Turtles. The Turtles eat the bags, but choke and suffocate to death as they can’t digest it or get it out of their system. Other single use plastics such as plastic utensils, water bottles and caps, plastic cups, and so forth are found floating in the Ocean everywhere. In the report, J refers back to a time where he counted 76 plastic bags in one minute during a survey in Indonesia.
The plastic epidemic will not cease until we stop and/or reduce our use of single use plastic (plastic items we only use once and throw away). If you are going on a picnic at the beach or a park, use reusable containers for food and drinks and bring home any items you need to throw away or dispose of them properly in a garbage or recycling bin. The less you leave behind, the less ends up in the Ocean. There are more things we can due to reduce single use plastics. Read the report on plastics to get the full story (Click Here for Report).