Trash on a beach. Trash in the ocean kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles each year through ingestion and entanglement. (Credit: NOAA)
ScienceDaily — Ocean Conservancy released its annual report on trash in the ocean with new data from the 2007 International Coastal Cleanup the most comprehensive snapshot of the harmful impacts of marine debris. The mission of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup is to engage people to remove trash from the world’s beaches and waterways, to identify the sources of debris and to change the behaviors that cause pollution.
This year, more than 378,000 volunteers participated in cleanups around every major body of water around the globe. Volunteers record the trash found on land and underwater allowing Ocean Conservancy a global snapshot of the problem.
"Our ocean is sick," says Laura Capps, Senior Vice President at Ocean Conservancy. "And the plain truth is that our ocean ecosystem cannot protect us unless it is healthy and resilient. Harmful impacts like trash in the ocean, pollution, climate change, and habitat destruction are taking its toll. But the good news is that hundreds of thousands of people from around the world are starting a sea change by joining together to clean up the ocean. Trash doesn’t’ fall from the sky it falls from people’s hands. With the International Coastal Cleanup, everyone has an opportunity to make a difference, not just on one day but all year long."
Trash in the ocean kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles each year through ingestion and entanglement. This year, 81 birds, 63 fish, 49 invertebrates, 30 mammals 11 reptiles and one amphibian were found entangled in debris by volunteers. Some of the debris they were entangled or had ingested include plastic bags, fishing line, fishing nets, six-pack holders, string from a balloon or kite, glass bottles and cans.
Entanglement in Ocean Trash
- Wraps around flippers causing circulation loss and amputations
- Creates wounds and cuts leading to bacterial infections
- Slows animals ability to swim making them more vulnerable to predators
- Smothers or traps animals, causing them to drown
- Causes starvation as animals can no-longer eat or feed its young
Ingestion of Ocean Trash
- Leads to starvation by blocking digestive tracks
- Provides false sense of being full once swallowed, which leads to starvation
- Ingests sharp objects like metal or glass that perforate the stomach, causing internal bleeding
- Becomes lodged in animals windpipes, cutting off airflow and causing suffocation
How Long Does It Take for Trash in the Ocean to Decompose?
- A tin can that entered the ocean in 1986 is still decomposing in 2036
- A plastic bottle that entered the ocean in 1986 is decomposing in 2436
- A glass bottle that entered the ocean in 1986 is decomposing in year 1,001,986
Prevention is the real solution to trash in the ocean. The International Coastal Cleanup volunteers make ocean conservation an everyday priority. Since 1986, more than six million volunteers have removed 116,000,000 pounds of debris across 211,460 miles of shoreline in 127 nations. The 23rd annual Flagship International Coastal Cleanup will be held Sept. 20, 2008.