Dangers of plastic in our oceans
Today, veterinarians at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport performed a necropsy on a large loggerhead sea turtle to determine the role plastic had in its health and eventual death.
The doctors point to this as a prime example of the devastating effects plastics cause in the oceans. Some say it is an even bigger problem than the BP oil spill.
Three weeks ago, the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies recovered a large loggerhead sea turtle just east of Courthouse Road in Gulfport. It was dead with plastic deeply embedded in its nostrils.
Now sitting on a table in a necropsy lab, Dr. Moore with the IMMS, Mississippi State University Dr. Tim Morgan and four MSU veterinary students have partnered to determine what exactly happened to the turtle and others that have washed up dead on the beach. They plan to use this as an example of what they call the bigger picture: the widespread devastating effects of plastic in rivers and oceans. “It’s a huge problem and it’s up to us to do something about it.”
A problem these doctors say that is even bigger than the BP oil spill. Dr. Moby Solangi said, “We have 31 states and two provinces in Canada that send their agricultural, industrial and all their wastes through the Mississippi River system and they come right to the Gulf of Mexico and they create dead zones, some dead zones can be as big as 10,000 square miles which kills everything.”
Currently, an estimated minimum of 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing nearly 270,000 tons pollute our oceans, plastics that break down into micro plastics, becoming small enough for filter feeders, plankton and small fish to ingest, ultimately ending up on dinner plates. “We end up going out fishing. We catch those big fish that have eaten those little fish and what has happened is the micro plastics have accumulated in their systems. Micro plastics attract toxins that are in the ocean and we end up ingesting it ourselves,” said Dr. Debra Moore.