Oceana, an international organization focused solely on oceans—and achieving positive, measurable change—has put out a new report that illustrates how plastic waste affects sea turtles and marine mammals in U.S. waters.
Using data from government agencies and marine life organizations over the past decade, Oceana found nearly 1,800 cases of “plastic entanglement or ingestion” affecting 40 species. The authors note, however, that this number is “a gross underestimate” due to the fact that humans observe only a small fraction of ocean-animal deaths.
In reported cases, 90 percent of the animals had swallowed plastic, and the rest were entangled in it. “Necropsies often showed that the animals had died from blockages or lacerations. Other times, ingesting plastic may have simply weakened the animal…”
And, the report found that many “surprising” household items were causing harm—including mesh produce bags, plastic utensils and dental tools, sponges, DVD cases, “and even decorative plastic Easter grass.”
Oceana calls on national, state and local governments to “restrict the production of single-use plastics and asks companies to offer consumers plastic-free options.”