A recent study by marine conservation organisation Oceana has revealed quite disturbing trends about plastic pollution in the waters of the United States. The study carried out for over a decade between 2009-2020 showed there are about 1,800 instances of aquatic animals and mammals getting affected because of the invasion of plastic in their habitat.
Of these 1,800, around 88% of the animals come under the Endangered Species Act, falling under either the “Endangered” or “Threatened with Extinction” categories. In total, this number includes 40 species in particular.
These are the Florida manatees, Steller sea lions, monk seals that are native to Hawaii, and all six species of turtles that are native to the United States.
Oceana's lengthy research yields horrifying truths
Staggering as these numbers are, Oceana’s researchers have warned that these are only the tip of the iceberg as far as plastic pollution’s effects on marine creatures are concerned.
Dr Kimberly Warner, one of the scientists working with Oceana, pointed out, “While there may never be a complete account of the fate of all marine animals impacted by plastic, this report paints a grim picture. The world is hooked on plastic because the industry continues to find increasingly more ways to force this persistent pollutant into our everyday routines - and it's choking, strangling and drowning marine life”.
Oceana’s researchers also observed that about 90% of the cases plastic’s presence in the marine creatures’ bodies came about because of its ingestion. Oceana has also shared several cases of marine animals dying and suffering from life-threatening injuries because of their inadvertent entanglements with plastic.
As per the report, the US is the biggest consumer of single-use plastic in the world. In total, according to the report, globally, around 15 million metric tonnes of plastic find their way into the oceans’ waters. Warning that this usage is only set to worsen within the next two decades – up to 2040 – Oceana’s researchers called out to corporates and conglomerates to try and consciously reduce plastic’s consumption by using other products in lieu of plastic.
In particular, looking at the problem greeting the United States, Oceana also made a case for the country’s government to bring about measures that could reduce the utilisation and disposal of plastic into the oceans.