The plastic waste that was found inside the stomach of a baby dolphin found in Florida. [Source: Associated Press, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
Rachel Lee, Grade 9
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that the rough-tooth dolphins are protected by the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. They live in tropical climates which can be found near the equator. These mammals have diets consisting of squid and fish. Therefore, it should be unusual to find plastic in a marine animal’s stomach. However, from the recent increase of plastic usage, these events are occurring more frequently. There has been an increase in cases of marine animals consuming these toxins and ultimately leading to death.
This horrifying incident informs us the importance of reducing single-use plastic products and the consequences of polluting the environment. We use many products containing plastic in our everyday lives. Plastic products are known to be recyclable, however, are not biodegradable. The average plastic bag use is 12 minutes, these plastic products are adding up leading to greater environmental problems.
When plastic is dumped in oceans and other bodies of water, they break into pieces and soak up toxins, known as microplastics. These microplastics are often mistaken as food to many marine animals, leading to organisms consuming them. Therefore, many marine animals are found with plastic material in its stomach, which can worsen an animal’s health. It is crucial to improve the disposal of plastic waste in oceans.
The increase in plastic waste greatly affects marine animals such as this dolphin. [Source: Associated Press, Matt York]