A pilot whale was found stranded on a beach in the southern province of Songkhla, Thailand, just days before World Oceans Day. According to Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, the whale died even though veterinarians spent five days trying to save his life. The subsequent autopsy led to a horrifying discovery—nearly 17 pounds of plastic were pulled from his stomach:
Eighty plastic bags were removed from the whale’s belly. According to scientists, whales and other marine animals can mistake bags and other plastic debris for food. Once ingested, the litter can not only cause animals pain but also make it difficult for them to eat or digest food. Yet even though people are aware of this, stories like this one aren’t all that uncommon.
For example, a sea turtle who had a plastic straw piercing his nose was found in 2015. His story went viral:
Last year, when a Cuvier’s beaked whale was euthanized after becoming stranded, experts discovered that the animal’s stomach reportedly contained 30 plastic bags, in addition to other various pieces of plastic:
Shortly after that, an endangered sea turtle in Thailand was found with more than 900 coins in her stomach. It was believed that people hoping to have their wishes granted threw the coins into the water where the animal was kept. Even though five surgeons spent four hours removing the coins, the turtle died.
Tossing coins into a fountain is usually something people do for good luck – but it wasn't lucky for this turtle in Thailand pic.twitter.com/AykBMeT6oA
— Channel 5 News (@5_News) March 6, 2017
These grim stories aren’t limited to animals who live in the ocean. Millions of sea birds are killed each year after ingesting plastic that obstructs their digestive tracks and punctures their organs.
— your healthy travel (@yourhealttravel) June 7, 2018
The good news is that we can all help reduce plastic pollution by making simple adjustments, such as using reusable shopping bags, avoiding plastic straws, and always throwing garbage away in designated areas. Click here to discover a few more simple things that you can do to help prevent animals from suffering.
It’s Not All Plastic Bags and Straws
If you think that consumer plastics like bags and straws are doing most of the damage, think again. Single-use plastics and other litter cause enormous pollution—no doubt—but it turns out that abandoned fishing gear is “the most harmful form of marine debris for animals,” according to a recent report. This abandoned gear—also known as “ghost gear”—kills and mutilates millions of sea animals every year.
The photos are heartbreaking 💔 More than 700,000 TONS of fishing gear is left in the ocean each year. It’s KILLING & MUTILATING millions of sea animals. https://t.co/5S2vO8MEEC
— PETA – #Save3000EnvigoBeagles (@peta) March 30, 2018
So while the majority of us are stocking up on cloth shopping bags and signing petitions to ban single-use plastic straws, those who fish need to reexamine themselves, too. It’s simple: No fishing would mean no fishing gear—abandoned or otherwise. Click here to learn more about the harmful effects of “ghost gear.”
Celebrate World Oceans Day Every Day
We’ll use any excuse to celebrate a great cause—like protecting our oceans and the animals in them. But if we really want to help save these animals and prevent further suffering, we need to practice environmentally friendly behavior every single day. That means not littering and not supporting an industry that’s horrifically cruel and hazardous to the environment. Click the button below to give the fishing industry the kick in the pants that it needs: