A new study published in the academic journal, Environmental Pollution has revealed the shocking reality of plastic debris polluting the ocean.
According to data compiled off the coast of Ireland by researchers at Galway-Mayo IT and University College Cork (in collaboration with IWDG), almost ten per cent of whales, dolphins, and porpoises examined were found to have plastics in their digestive tracts.
Furthermore, the study found that 8.5 per cent (45 individuals) of those tested had marine debris in their stomachs and intestines, and that deep-diving species (like Cuvier’s beaked whales), ingested more plastics than those individuals that roam the seas closer to the coast.
In one of the largest studies of its kind, information was gathered between 1990 and 2015 from whale and dolphin strandings and accidental capture in fishing nets in Ireland. Eleven different species were analysed and a range of plastics were found inside the creatures including, plastic bags, wrappers, fishing hooks and even shotgun cartridges.
Plastic pollution is a growing threat to whales and dolphins as well as seabirds and other marine creatures. Fifty-six percent of all whale and dolphin species, from small fish-eating dolphins to the largest filter feeding whales, have been recorded eating marine plastics they’ve mistaken for food.