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Mar 12, 2010
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Poll
Location: Antarctica

'A Fine Mess' photo by ingridtyler
From How Many Marine Mammals Did Your Plastic Grocery Bag Kill Today? posted by: Jennifer Mueller Care2

With DisneyNature opening a new film about the ocean on Earth Day, scientists confirming an Atlantic garbage patch that rivals the one in the pacific, I think we are going to be hearing a lot more about plastics in our oceans. The attention will be well deserved but I struggle with is what to do next. Surfrider and others suggest we all reduce our plastic use and therefore plastic trash. Great. But, is that going to do it?

The city of San Francisco and the entire country of China banned plastic bags entirely. What do YOU think we should do about PLASTIC in the OCEAN?
TAKE THIS POLL: click here.
View this video, "Rise Above Plastics; Plastics Kill."

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LINKS:
Disney movie OCEANS 
National Geo' Huge Garbage Patch in AtlanticOcean 
pictures of the Pacific Ocean trash vortex 
Beth Terry's efforts to live a life less plastic 
500 billion plastic bags
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photo: drums and household debris litter a beach in
Fuerteventura, Grand Canary Island

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Posted: Mar 12, 2010 3:18am
Mar 17, 2009

Photo: leatherback turtle closeup
[from Care2's news, submitted by Cher. Reach Cher's news and please note them, here.]
                                    

Leatherbacks endangered by ingesting plastic March 2009. 
                                  
Leatherback turtles survived the extinction of the dinosaurs; in fact they are descendants of one of the oldest family trees in history, spanning 100 million years. But now leatherback turtles, the world's most widely distributed reptiles, are threatened with extinction themselves, in large part due to the carelessness of humans.
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We know the dangers plastic poses to marine life - rubbish that humans directly and indirectly deposit in the oceans - but have we got the message?
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Not according to a recent article in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin entitled "Leatherback turtles: The menace of plastic," co-authored by Dalhousie University's Mike James.
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"We wanted to see if plastics ingestion in leatherbacks was hype or reality," says Dr. James, senior species at risk biologist for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and adjunct professor with Dalhousie's Department of Biology.

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371 leatherback necropsies - 33% related to plastic
                                        
"It was a monumental effort that looked back at necropsies over the last century from all over the world," he explains. (Necropsies are post-mortem examinations performed on animals.) "After reviewing the results of 371 necropsies since 1968, we discovered over one third of the turtles had ingested plastic."
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Since leatherbacks prefer eating jellyfish, it's widely believed they mistake bags or other plastics for their meals. Since jellyfish and marine debris concentrate where ocean water masses meet, leatherbacks feeding in these areas are vulnerable to ingesting plastic. Once leatherbacks ingest plastic, thousands of spines lining the throat and oesophagus make it nearly impossible to regurgitate. The plastic can lead to partial or even complete obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in decreased digestive efficiency, energetic and reproductive costs and, for some, starvation.
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"Plastics ingestion doesn't always cause death, but there are clearly health risks to the turtles," says Dr.James.
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Solution 
                                 
Fascinated by reptiles as a child, Dr. James developed a lifelong interest in turtles, from raising them as a kid, to his PhD research and now as a biologist and conservationist. He says there are simple ways to stop these ongoing threats.
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"The frustrating, yet hopeful aspect is that humans can easily begin addressing the solution, without major lifestyle changes....It's as simple as reducing packaging and moving towards alternative, biodegradable materials and recycling."
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Critically endangered Leatherback turtles are classified as critically endangered world-wide. The true population size is not precisely known, as only adult females come ashore for nesting in remote tropical locations. During the summer and fall, Canadian waters support the highest density of foraging leatherbacks in the North Atlantic.
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                  One third of all leatherback deaths linked to plastic 
                                  

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Posted: Mar 17, 2009 9:41pm

 

 
 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.

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Jenny Dooley
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