Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Plastic is a slow and painful death sentence for whales

Scientists have studied the cetaceans washed ashore over the last twenty years. The saddest case was that of a 5.3 metre young sperm whale found on the island of Mykonos: it had swallowed 135 pieces of plastic weighing 3.2 kg in total.

According to the authors of the study published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, their research was the first large-scale investigation of the issue in the Mediterranean Sea.

They found that sperm whales are the species at the highest risk of plastic pollution. Six out of ten animals had ingested plastic according to Alexandros Frantzis, scientific director of the Athens-based Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute and lead author of the study.

"The amount (of debris) we found is very high, and should set off an alarm. It is now something common. ... It’s not just that some random animal swallowed plastic,” he said.

According to Francis, plastic bags are a huge problem, not because they are more lethal than any other plastic waste, but because they are extremely widely used.

"None of us is innocent. Without our knowledge or intent, some (of the plastic that is swallowed by whales
or dolphins) may have passed through our hands. We may even have disposed of it in the thrash, and it may have been blown away from an open landfill.
These things travel, they have no borders,” he added.

The Mediterranean is one of the world’s most polluted seas in terms of floating as well as seabed debris. Plastic is the main problem, it is even present in the deepest areas.

The sperm whales of the Mediterranean are endangered animals: they are run over by ships, they get caught in fishing nets, and the noise pollution from oil and gas production is also bad for them Photo: Shutterstock
Further information: AP

Beautiful island fallen victim to plastic

Henderson Island, a remote Pacific island that belongs to New Zealand, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – yet six tonnes of plastic waste was collected there in two weeks.

Sad record of a sea that deserves better

Based on a study spanning more than 20 years, researchers of the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer) believe that the Mediterranean Sea is the most polluted sea in Europe.

Blackened fish caught in the Mediterranean

Water pollution in the region is becoming increasingly severe. Tunisia is particularly in big trouble.

Waste is a good catch in Greece

Fishermen in Greece, who agree to collect the waste caught in their nets and deliver it for recycling, get 200 euro a month.

Will we ever be synchronised with our environment again?

In a natural environment inundated with artificial objects, the delicate balance of finely tuned interconnections and highly functional systems is upset. This new asynchrony, this disharmony is highlighted in the performance of two young synchronised swimmers intended as a warning of the dangers of plastic pollution.

Sewage is destroying coral

Wastewater is more damaging to coral than the warming of the seas, a new American study has shown.

Huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

According to a new study by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, up to 17,000 litres of oil may be spilt in the water of the Gulf of Mexico due to a leak on an oil platform that has started 15 years ago.

Devastating plastic – shocking video about plastic waste in the ocean

Every single piece of plastic that has ever been made is still with us on the planet, and humanity adds more than 300 million tonnes of freshly produced plastic to the total amount each year.

40 tonnes of plastic waste removed from the ocean

Environmentalists removed more than 40 tonnes of plastic waste from the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California, says a CNN news report.

Oceanic plastic waste is encrusting rocks along the shoreline

The patches of plastic that look like used chewing gum are not only indications of the amount of waste accumulating in the oceans, they also represent a risk for the organisms that live and feed on the rocks.