Everybody knows the problems caused by plastic at sea (and not only in the sea), set aside the pollution that is obvious, the plastic has become a serious problem for the marine fauna that eat it, for example turtles confuse plastic bags with jellyfish, their favorite food, and this causes the death of many of them. On the other hand, if fishes eat plastic, it reaches the food chain and at end, we also ingest it when we eat the fish.
Just as an example, almost 99% of the sea salt we consume in the currently contains plastic microscopic. It is a troubling situation, isn’t it?.
Look around you. It is most likely that you are surrounded by plastic. It is in our kitchens and in our rooms, it keeps our food fresh and our medicines safe. It is, in many ways, a miraculous product, cheap to produce and virtually indestructible. However, plastic blessings are also a curse. That bottle of water we use once and throw it away will be with us for generations. There are campaigns to limit this plastic pest with bans on bags and straws and, in spite of this throughout the world, plastic continues to pile up, seep into our rivers and streams and turn our oceans into a huge garbage dump.
Recently we have been able to observe on the shores of the Spanish Mediterranean after the passing of the Gloria storm, the huge amounts of plastic and other waste that the sea “has given us back” and that has left the beaches, literally full of shit. All this was under the water and didn’t do anything good down there.
It is not surprising that filter feeders like stingray or whale shark, which can filter thousands of centimeters cubic plankton, ingest at the same time plastic particles.
A recent study shows that the reef manta ingests up to 63 pieces of plastic per hour, and whale sharks up to 137 pieces. This calculation has been done by marine biologists from the Marine megafauna Foundation (MHF), the Universities of Murdoch (Australia) and Udayana (Indonesia). For the realization of these calculations they have been based on an estimation of plastic particles in the coastal surface waters of “Nusa Penida” Bali and National Park Komodo and in the migration place of the whale shark in eastern Java.
Blankets-rays and whale sharks can ingest micro plastic by two different ways: directly from contaminated water or indirectly through contaminated plankton. Ieces and vomit of stingray have also been found signs of plastics. These particles of plastic when passing through the digestive system of these animals, exposes them to toxic chemicals and pollutants that, could accumulate over decades and alter their hormones that control their metabolism, growth and even reproduction. Their digestive system and their diet can also be threatened by the intake of larger plastic particles.
Indonesia is in second place as the most polluting country in the world, and also the areas near the Coral Triangle are in the Top 10. Plastics are 44 times more abundant in the rainy season, especially in Nusa Penida, according to the researchers.
A study called Frontiers in Marine Science concludes that exposure to plastic pollution and toxic substances reduces the population of these endangered animals because they reproduce more slowly and have fewer offspring.
Either we take it seriously or our children will dive between more plastic than marine fauna…
By Maribel Martín
Padi Open Water 1811UP9187