Stranded Baby Dolphin is Another Tragic Reminder About Our Plastic Use

The recent death of a baby dolphin who was stranded in Florida is another tragic reminder about how our plastic waste is harming wildlife.

The baby, who was a female rough toothed dolphin who should have been far out in deep water, was found on Fort Myers Beach in poor health and estimated to be just a few months old. Rescuers attempted to help her, but she was in such bad condition by the time she was found that the decision was made to humanely euthanize her.

Sadly, when biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) conducted a necropsy to figure out what was wrong with her, they found she had eaten two plastic bags and a piece of a balloon.

Although the FWC noted in an update that the official cause of death hasn’t been determined and there could have been other additional factors involved that resulted in her stranding, such as illness, or being separated from her mother, the initial finding is significant – and it’s a stark reminder to reduce our use of single-use plastics and not to release balloons into the environment.

Yesterday, FWC biologists from our southwest field lab completed a necropsy of a female rough toothed dolphin that…

Posted by FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute on Friday, April 26, 2019

Sadly, what’s even more tragic is that stories like this continue to make headlines. Wild animals around the world, including numerous whales, have increasingly been found to suffer the impact of our plastic use after consuming it. A pilot whale died in Thailand after eating 80 plastic bags. A Cuvier’s beaked whale died in the Phillipines after eating 88 pounds of plastic. A pregnant sperm whale was recently found in Italy to have consumed nearly 50 pounds of plastic, another sperm whale in Indonesia died after eating 13 pounds, while yet another died in Spain after consuming 64 pounds of waste.

Consuming this waste leaves them unable to absorb nutrients, and causes other problems by blocking or damaging their digestive tracts, causing death by starvation and dehydration, or making them more susceptible to other infections.

More troubling still is that those aren’t even all of the incidents involving dolphins and whales and plastic, and they’re not the only species being harmed by our trash either. While it’s gloomy to consider, at least in response many people, companies and governments are taking action to reduce these tragedies by campaigning for an increased use in reusable items, and adopting bans on smaller plastic items like straws and stirrers, while more areas still are adopting measures to ban balloons and plastic bags.

Plastic bag bans are now in place in Hawaii, California and New York, but more still clearly needs to be done. Hopefully these lost lives will help continue to raise awareness about the problem and encourage more of us to be mindful about our actions, and how they impact our environment and species we share it with.

If you want to see your city or state be one of the next to tackle this problem, you can help by starting a petition.

 

Photo credit: Getty Images

110 comments

Jennifer H
Jennifer H4 days ago

I am a beach trash cleaner. I have found anything from bottle tops, oil cans, mylar balloons (of which I hate), you name it, I have found it. But the grossest thing I have had to pick out of the water is a damn dirty diaper (newly changed) that some fun loving beach slobs left on the beach day before yesterday. How can people go to such an amazing place and deliberately and literally leave their sh**. And obviously teaching their kids that it is OK to trash the oceans. The beaches I walk are now covered in dead sea life (crabs, sand dollars, starfish, jellies). The oceans are in trouble. The bags are a big part but not all of it. We are reaching a point that the oceans may not come back. There needs to be more done. They talk about a bag ban but it really is not the case. Some retailers still give them out or people just "pay" for them. It's disheartening when I realize all the garbage I pick up each time I am on the beach is a drop in the bucket (sad pun intended) to what is really out there.

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joan silaco
joan silaco10 days ago

tufs

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D10 days ago

We are past the time to stop being "trashy". How many animals must die before we realize the harm we are causing?? Time to wake up and clean up. I am gratified to read about those who pick up trash when they see it - so do I.

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Richard E Cooley
Richard E Cooley11 days ago

Thank you.

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Vincent T
William T13 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Michael Friedmann
Michael F14 days ago

Thank You For Sharing This !!!

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Sonia M

So sad.Thanks for sharing

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Jack Y
Jack Y15 days ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y15 days ago

thanks

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