How do plastic affect our marine life?

Written by Kajsa IngelssonMarch 24, 2021

We all know by now that we have a huge plastic issue on our hands. Its chocking our oceans, killing wildlife and making us sicker and sicker. If things don’t change right now, the future is looking very bleak.

How is it, that most of us know this yet do very little to contribute to the change?

Sure, there needs to be laws put in place, big companies getting fined huge amount (sign this petition) to put an example and the new innovations that do exist (think biodegradable cutlery made out of avocado, plastic bags made out of seaweed that actually feeds fish and hemp replacing most of our plastic items) must be getting full government funding and be pushed out into the market.

But, all change always starts with one individual; y o u.

I have previously published these posts on the matter:

💙 Micro plastic = mega problem – why can I with certainty say that you have about a credit card of plastic inside of you right now?

💙 The big recycling lie – why recycling is not the solution to our plastic problem.

💙 The big plastic detox – how to detoxify your kitchen + bathroom + closet + cleaning routine + on the go.

💙 Is there such a thing as sustainable plastic – an investigation to decode the new “green” plastic labels.

💙 The fashion industry dirty little secrets.

Today I was thinking to do a little post connecting our plastic waste to the animals that suffer the most from finding it in nature.

For me, the driving factor to become more sustainable and aware has always been our earth and animals. Maybe todays post with the direct links to various animals suffering from the devastation plastic is causing will also inspire change in you or others that you know.

Did you know that gum consist of plastic?

Yep, that’s the case. More so, birds and other animals like the look and the smell of these little chewers, eat it and often get their beaks glued shut, resulting in slow and painful death by starvation. My late grandfather taught me this when I was just a kid, and I still remember being horrified by the thought of having my mouth glued shut not being able to eat.

Plastic bags are everywhere.

Its stupid really, cause it aint that hard to bring your own bags. And while a bountiful of animals suffer from plastic bags, turtles are some of the most vulnerable. This is because it very much resembles their favourite food: jellyfish! If they do not choke and die when eating these jellyfish imposters, they will most likely starve to death as the plastic gets logged in their stomachs and stop them from feeling any hunger.  

Do not give me 5 for 6 rings!

I cannot possibly recall how many 6 pack rings I have broken apart in the last years. These might be handy when you want to carry a lot of things at once, but for wildlife such as seals, birds, turtles and dolphins, they can often be a slow death sentence.  

Picture this:

A few years ago a video of a turtle getting a straw removed from its nose went viral. People where outraged, with good right. Here’s the thing, animals under the sea are under current pressure from the water that surrounds them. They also lack hands to remove anything that gets stuck. Just picture that you have a q-tip stuck in your ear with someone applying a mild constant pressure to it, and you have no way of making it stop or pulling it out.. #stopsucking 

The scariest ghosts of them all.

Ghost nets are fishing nets that are drifting at sea, like silent killers for all wildlife that gets stuck in them. Its particularly sharks, dolphins and whales that suffer from deadly entanglements that will lead to drowning. You might find this unbelievable, that sea life can drown. But cetaceans breath air and need to surface every 10-30 min depending on the species, and sharks breath by constantly swimming.

Do you know what bycatch is?

It’s not only ghost nets that are proving to be the deadliest of catch. Every year, it’s estimated that global bycatch may amount to 40 percent of the world’s catch, totaling 63 billion pounds per year. Bycatch essentially means that the fish and other sea life killed or injured by getting caught in fishing nets or other fishing gear are just tossed back in the sea for various reasons.  

Micro plastics are a big problem for oh so many reasons.

But for our corral reefs which are already in peril from warming seas, they are deadly. The micro plastics are carrying foreign microbes with them through the aquatic environment and end up settling in the ecosystems of the coral reefs. Once entangled in the reefs, these plastics wreak havoc. They physically damage corals and abrade them, creating open wounds.

Anchovies are so cute.

They are small little fish that sustain wide range of other sea life. A recent study has shown that anchovies really like the smell of plastic, choosing it as feed over other natural sources. This is a huge problem, because as they are the main prey for animals such as halibut, shark, salmon and marine mammals, they do not only poison themselves (bad enough) but the plastic also travels up the ocean food chain, leading to toxicity, infertility and death.

An anchovy is a small, common salt-water forage fish of the family Engraulidae.

What do you feel after reading this? Ready to change your lifestyle and habits and inspire others to do the same? I sure hope so, because since we made this mess, we are the only ones who can clean it up.

I have faith in us.