A dolphin was discovered in Florida with a surprising amount of plastic waste in its stomach. According to Fox News, “Researchers made a sad discovery in the stomach of a dolphin who was found stranded on a Florida Beach last week.” After the dolphin was euthanized, scientist found the dolphin’s belly polluted with two plastic bags and a shredded piece of a balloon. Researchers say the dolphin was in poor health, weighing 111 pounds and measuring 5 feet and 7 inches in length.
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.
To reduce the amount of plastics in the environment, we can make minor changes to our daily lives. Instead of plastic bags, we can use reusable shopping bags to reduce the amount of bags we waste. Reusing plastic bags found at home can also be another method for reducing pollution. Instead of buying bottled water, it may be beneficial to use reusable water bottles. Reducing the amount of straws used or choosing to buy more cardboard products can immensely help our environment. In addition, reducing the amount of plastic waste should be our priority. Less plastic in the ocean will lead to better environments for marine animals.
Rachel Lee, Grade 9