Another Sea Dweller Dies from Ingesting Plastic
We love our coastlines and beaches, but there’s a far more serious reason why we laud – and contribute to – efforts to rid our oceans of plastic pollution.
This recent headline drives home the point:
“Dead whale had 115 plastic cups, 2 flip-flops in its stomach”
According to the Associated Press – and the local TV news account we viewed with a heavy heart – “A dead whale that washed ashore in eastern Indonesia had a large lump of plastic waste in its stomach, including drinking cups and flip-flops … causing concern among environmentalists and government officials in one of the world's largest plastic polluting countries.”
The gut-wrenching development occurred near Jakarta where the rotting remains of a 31-foot sperm whale washed ashore in Wakatobi National Park.
Sadly, this is not the first time we felt compelled to report on a sea dweller killed by ingesting plastic waste.
Reports indicate the stomach of the dead whale contained 13 pounds of plastics, including 115 plastic cups, 4 plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, 2 flip-flops, a nylon sack and more than 1,000 other pieces of plastic.
Indonesia has been tabbed the world's second-largest plastic polluter after China. The journal Science says Indonesia produces 3.2 million tons of “mismanaged” plastic waste a year. More than a third of that waste ends up in the ocean where it poses a risk to fish and marine life that mistake it for food or become hopelessly entangled in it.
Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia's coordinating minister of maritime affairs, is hopeful the whale's demise will raise public awareness about the need to reduce plastic use.
"I'm so sad to hear this," he said. "It is possible that many other marine animals are also contaminated with plastic waste and this is very dangerous for our lives."
Meanwhile, the Indonesian government is launching efforts to educate citizens on the dangers of plastic pollution. Businesses are being urged to reduce their reliance on plastics.
The government seeks to reduce plastic use by 70 percent by 2025.
Keeping our coast clear