The thing is, it is very hard for marine life to distinguish the difference between a small piece of plastic or food. Every day there are multiple cases of aquatic animals swallowing inorganic materials; materials that have may have led to the animal's death. Unfortunately, today was not any different.
Recently, a dead sperm whale washed ashore on an Indonesia coast near one of the country’s National parks, filled with approximately 6kg or 13 lbs of plastic waste in its stomach.
Death by Plastic?
The 9.5 meter, or 31 ft, dead sperm whale appeared on the shores of Kapota Island in the Wakatobi National Park late on Monday. Some of the items found in the sea creatures stomach include 115 drinking cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags, and two flip-flops.
Though, it is currently not possible for examiners to truly identify whether or not the plastic caused the death of the whale, the scene was a sad sight for officials from the WWF Indonesia stating, “Although we have not been able to deduce the cause of death, the facts that we see are truly awful."
The full list of what was found in the whale include, "Hard plastic (19 pieces, 140g), plastic bottles (4 pieces, 150g), plastic bags (25 pieces, 260g), flip-flops (2 pieces, 270g), pieces of string (3.26kg) & plastic cups (115 pieces, 750g)."
5,9 kg sampah plastik ditemukan di dlm perut paus malang ini! Sampah plastik yaitu: plastik keras (19 pcs, 140 gr), botol plastik (4 pcs, 150 gr), kantong plastik (25 pcs, 260 gr), sandal jepit (2 pcs, 270 gr), didominasi o/ tali rafia (3,26 kg) & gelas plastik (115 pcs, 750 gr). pic.twitter.com/ZFWZgkbnzu— WWF-Indonesia (@WWF_ID) November 19, 2018
The World’s Plastic Problem
The proper disposal of plastic waste in South Eastern Asian Countries is a major problem. To put things into perspective, five Asian nations, which include China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand, contribute to near 60% of plastic waste that ends up in the oceans, based off a 2015 report by environmental campaigner Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.
Right now, there are five massive patches of plastic debris floating in the oceans across the globe, some of them the size of small countries. If nothing is done soon, the amount of plastic in the ocean could increase by tenfold by 2020.
Currently, countries around the world are looking for innovative solutions to combat the use of plastic and clean the oceans before the damage to marine biology becomes irreversible.