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Oceanic Animales at Risk

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The ocean used to be a place of magnificent beauty. Fish of every shape, size, and color could swim undisturbed in abundant schools. Multitudes of plants would sway peacefully in the water. The majestic sea turtles and whales thrived, almost like rulers of their hidden sea kingdom.

Now, these fish can be seen weighed down by discarded pieces of plastic. The homes of aquatic plants are cluttered with trash. Turtles get tangled up in pieces of garbage, limiting their movement and endangering their lives. The whales mistake trash for food, which tears stomach lining and ultimately leads to starvation and death.

Usually, the current state of the ocean is not the priority of news sources, however, recently it is gaining popularity. Pollution is not a new concern, so why has it suddenly gained so much attention?

According to TIME Magazine, a video of a marine-biologist team removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s eye has been making the rounds on social media, and has brought attention to the damage that even small pieces of plastic has on the environment. Plastic is not biodegradable, which means that it can never disappear as a result landfills are continuing to fill up. Toxins from the plastic seep into groundwater, harming humans and poisoning animals. In addition to these toxins, the physical plastic oftentimes ends up in places it should not. Plastic can disrupt habitats and be ingested by animals who do not know better.

The other major victims are sea lions, sea birds, fish, and mammals like whales and dolphins. Seals and sea lions get tangled up in plastic bags and become so embedded in them that it leads to injury and ultimately death. In fact, an eight-year study done by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game recorded 388 sea lions entangled in plastic debris. Furthermore, when seabirds dive into the water to catch their prey, they skim the surface of the water and pick up plastic along with it. Microscopic plastic debris is brought through the gills of fish along with water. Since fish are commonly eaten, it is a health risk to humans as well. Whales and dolphins also mistakenly consume plastic, destroying their digestive systems.

This problem is not impossible to solve–it just requires us to work together. There are small things everybody can do to help out. For example, you can clean up after yourself. It seems pretty simple and self-explanatory, but so many habitats and animal lives can be saved by one less piece of garbage, especially if everybody contributes. Recycling is another solution, but for pieces of plastic that are too small to be recycled, one can just refuse to use them. Take straws for instance. Straws are actually too lightweight to go through regular recycling processes, and eventually get disposed of as garbage. They often end up in the ocean because of human error. They can be left on beaches, littered, or blow away from trash cans and vehicles. For people who need straws, there are some that are reusable or made from compostable materials.

The current state of our ocean life is declining, but that does not mean it is the end. You can save an animal’s life by making the smallest of changes in yours.

 

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The student news site of West Morris Central High School
Oceanic Animales at Risk