Many forms of trash are known to kill and harm sea creatures, but some trash is far more harmful than others. Turtles, whales and seabirds are just some of the many magnificent creatures regularly harmed and even killed by the mounds of trash floating in our oceans. It’s chilling but true, some of that trash could have once belonged to you.
A recent study published in the Marine Policy journal identified and ranked the most harmful types of garbage on marine animals. This is the first study of its kind, as it doesn’t just pinpoint the amount of trash in the oceans but the exact impact different forms of trash have on marine life.
The Top 5 Deadliest Plastics & Other Trash Found In The Ocean
#1 Most Deadly Pollutant: Lost Fishing Gear
Carelessly discarded traps, buoys, fishing line and fishing nets are the leading cause of death and injury to marine animals. These lost items are coined “ghost gear” because they disappear out to sea but are not actually gone. Instead, they present haunting threats to many life forms. Seals, sea turtles and seabirds are among the most likely to be harmed.
How You Can Help: If you go fishing make sure to use proper practices and never discarding anything in the ocean. Responsibly keep track of all fishing gear.
#2 Most Deadly Pollutant: Plastic Bags
All of those plastic bags handed out at grocery stores and retail shops are creating a BIG problem to the health and overall existence of marine animals. Animals often consume plastic bags or become trapped inside of them, leading to injury, suffering and even death.
How You Can Help: say no to plastic bags in exchange for reusable tote bags made from recycled materials.
#3 Most Deadly Pollutant: Plastic Eating Utensils
Plastic forks, spoons and knives are not as innocent as they appear. Plastic utensils become even more dangerous after being broken down into smaller, sharper and more ingestible fragments. These items remain among the most deadly because they are easily mistaken for food by seabirds and marine animals.
How You Can Help: Ditch the plastic utensils for real silverware, it might be more work to clean it up but it’s well worth it.
#4 Most Deadly Pollutant: Balloons
A favorite party favor among kids and adults, balloons may seem fun but they are highly deadly to marine life. People often release balloons up into the sky (intentionally and non-intentionally). As the balloon climbs higher and higher the helium expands. Once it reaches 28,000-feet, freezing cold temperatures at this altitude cause the balloon to freeze. As a result, the balloon ruptures into many tiny slivers released to the ground. These toxic fragments often end up in our oceans. (Related Article)
How You Can Help: Find other fun party favors that are more eco-friendly. Balloons are far from your only option.
#5 Most Deadly Pollutant: Cigarette Butts
According to the Coastal Cleanup program, cigarette butts remain the most commonly found form of debris on beaches over the last 30 years. Easily mistaken for food, cigarette butts are a deadly and toxic pollutant capable of greatly harming innocent animals.
How You Can Help: Don’t smoke, it’s bad for your health, the environment and ocean animals too. Anyone that does smoke should responsibly dispose of all cigarette butts and NEVER toss on the ground—no matter how far from the beach you may be.
You Are The Solution To Help Clean Up Ocean Pollution!
These 5 items are found to cause the most marine animal injuries and deaths. Unfortunately, they are far from the only pollutants causing great harm to our oceans and marine life.
Join Camp Live Oak in our mission to help clean up the world’s oceans. You can become part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem by being more aware of the products you buy and use, as well as how you dispose of them.