A couple of weeks ago, we were called to assess some stranded animals in Wexford, here in Ireland. As we are looking at the ingestion of plastics by sea birds, we take advantage of stranding events to obtain our samples most of the time.
As mentioned here previously, stranding events are common for sea birds, which can be weakened through bad weather, land on beaches and die from starvation. However, as weather gets rough, the tides not only bring weakened animals, but also a huge amount of debris. The pictures you’re about to see emphasize that the marine debris problem is never a local one. Normally, you could go to a beach in Ireland and not find so much trash, but the sea isn’t static and debris travels all over through currents, and such a thing as a pristine beach does not seem to exist anymore. We have impacted the seas greatly and there is no stopping the come and go of the currents. For example, Ireland has banned single-use plastic bags since 2002 and I am absolutely sure we can find some plastic bags on these beaches. Why? Because the sea is not limited to me and you doing our part. Marine debris has become a huge global problem. It involves EVERYONE doing their part, whether on land or at sea, civilians or industries.
We still haven’t started the necropsies on the stranded sea birds, but looking at these beaches, I am, unfortunately 100% sure that we are going to find marine debris in the stomachs of these birds. Aside from sea birds, we also found a dolphin, a turtle and two seals washed ashore. The amount of debris is not only disgusting, but overall, sad.
*Images by Heidi Acampora & Deirdre Slevin
Published by Heidi Acampora