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Death & Destruction: Animals vs. Plastic Around The World

We continue to use single-use plastic products - like water bottles, straws, and shopping bags – the impact on terrestrial and aquatic animals is shocking. Find out how you can help prevent more animal deaths.


Turtles

All of the species of sea turtles throughout the world, have ingested plastic. A 2018 study revealed that, every single one had plastic in its digestive system.

Of course, we’ve all seen the viral image of a sea turtle with a plastic straw lodged in its nasal cavity; this is a heartbreaking reminder that the single-use plastic cups we love to use are much more damaging than you’d like to think.

Now, new research is showing that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), including those found in plastics and personal care products, can affect how young sea turtles’ sex hormones function.

Sea turtle populations globally have been on a sharp decline for decades—most notably green sea turtles, which declined by 90 percent between 1989 and 2001 due to coastal development and fishing practices. EDCs are suspected as being one of several factors affecting this rapid decline.


Seabirds

The ingestion of plastic by seabirds is associated with poor health and mortality through entanglement or starvation and potentially through direct toxicity also. Birds that ingest plastics experience reduced food intake, reduced growth rates and skeletal abnormalities such as curvature of bone, rotation and displacement due to bill deformities caused by incomplete keratinisation. Mortality rates for these individuals are likely increased resulting from their compromised state. Plastic ingestion has been implicated in mass mortality


Sealions

There's a common saying in environmental circles, "a sea of plastic," and it seems to describe our oceans quite accurately. A new study found that 388 sea lions became entangled in plastic debris between 2002 and 2009 on the central California coast. Of those 388 cases, researchers from University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine found packing bands to be the biggest culprit for injuries across all species examined. The results were published this month in Marine Mammal Science .

Packing bands can get embedded into an animal, leading to infection and painful death. Other marine animals, like seals and turtles, can tangle themselves in abandoned fishing nets and lines. These animals also face a painful death, as they slowly starve to death in their entrapment.

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