The story of the giant bird recently taken into the Massey University’s Wildbase Hospital is a very straightforward, and unfortunate, answer to the question of where our plastic trash goes once it is gone from sight.
The Petrel was rushed to the hospital after being found struggling at sea and was luckily brought in by a group of surfers. Once the vets inspected the situation inside the bird’s belly, the cause of distress became all too clear…
The initial X-ray did not show anything wrong with the animal, but a fiber-optic tube that was then stuck down the bird’s throat found the culprit.
The bird swallowed a whole plastic spoon, a balloon, and some other sharp pieces of plastic.
Although cases of seabirds swallowing plastic are, unfortunately, nothing new, Wildbase director Professor Brett Gartrell said that this was the first time he had come across a bird with a whole spoon inside its digestive system.
Plastic is a constant and serious threat to birds and sea animals. Every year, around 8.8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the oceans – where it becomes immensely dangerous to the ecosystem as it is easily ingested by animals. Once inside an animal’s stomach, plastic can cause blockages, release dangerous toxins, and easily lead to death.
It is estimated that already half of all sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs! And when it comes to seabirds, by 2050, 99 percent of them will have ingested plastic waste. That is the future we are creating – one in which birds have more plastic than food in their bodies – and the only way to change the road we are on, is to seriously dedicate ourselves to change. Our choices as consumers and our everyday habits shape the bigger picture of production and trade – this is why none of us is off the hook.
To learn more about how to minimize your plastic footprint, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!
All image source: Wildbase/Facebook