A new WDC report issued today reveals the frightening extent of the plastic pollution problem and that 67% of species of whale and dolphin are now affected.
To mark the launch of the report, WDC partner BRITA has also revealed worrying survey figures that show nine million Brits have littered at the beach, 22% notice litter every time they visit the seaside whilst over half of Brits (52%) admit to taking disposable products to the beach.
To raise awareness of the problem, BRITA and WDC have joined forces to bring the report and survey findings to life with a 50m long sand drawing of a whale and her calf filled with plastic waste on a UK beach (pictured).
WDC’s Message in a Bottle report has been commissioned to highlight the shocking impact of plastic pollution on whales and dolphins and how we can reverse it. Plastics have been shown to negatively affect whales’ and dolphins’ ability to feed, digest, navigate, breathe, breed and migrate. The report findings show that the number of whale and dolphin species known to be affected by marine litter has increased profusely, from 28 out of 75 in 1997, to 61 of the 90 species recognised today. And while plastic waste has long been a problem, production of plastic waste has increased worldwide during the pandemic, meaning urgent action is needed to stem the tide.
Yet the survey commissioned by BRITA highlights that less than half (45%) of the UK population think whales and dolphins are harmed as a result of single-use plastic rubbish, with almost one in ten (9%) believing no marine life suffers at all.
The joint awareness drive has been launched to mark World CleanUp Day, and spotlights plastic not only polluting the ocean, affecting more whale and dolphin species with every year, but it also exacerbates climate change. Fewer whales and dolphins mean more carbon in the atmosphere.
Julia Bradbury, TV presenter and WDC patron added her voice to the wake-up call, saying: ‘WDC’s study shines an important light on the scale, and impact, of marine litter, however BRITA’s research has shown there is still a lack of understanding about the impact of our plastic waste here in the UK. We hope that this new report helps to educate the public and raise awareness of the issue, and encourage people to limit their use of single-use plastics.’
Other report findings:
- Given the high probability of all whale and dolphins species, including those in UK waters, having been affected by plastics, these findings are a wake-up call from the ocean, telling us we need to change course before it’s too late
- Plastics account for 60-80% of marine litter
- The amount of plastic going into the ocean every year (up to 23m tonnes) weighs as much as 10 times all the blue whales alive today
- An average humpback whale will ingest around 9.3 billion micro-plastics in his or her lifetime
- If everyone in the UK prevents five plastic items from going into landfill every week, then (depending on size) we could stop 177,580 tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year
- In 1997, plastics were found to affect 37% of whale and dolphin species. By 2021 this figure rose to 68%
BRITA UK and WDC are urging consumers to help save whales and dolphins from increased plastic pollution whilst ensuring nature’s carbon absorbing machine, the ocean, can continue to thrive.
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