HOW PLASTIC RUBBISH MAKES WHALES STARVE
MANIFESTO appreciates the beauty of design—whether man-made or that formed by the hand of Mother Nature—and surely few things are more beautiful than the sight of majestic whales swimming through the ocean waves.
Sadly many species of the cetacean were hunted to near extinction by man seeking whale blubber for oil and flesh for food before the international community instigated a ban on hunting these gentle giants of the sea. But whilst numbers of many species—particularly Sperm Whales—are now recovering, these creatures, which just like us are known to form close family ties, still face a threat from man in the form of thoughtlessly discarded plastic waste.
This problem was brought to the fore earlier this year after a spate of whale strandings around the North Sea—particularly one incident where 13 Sperm Whales were found dead on a North German beach.
Scientists who performed necropsies (post mortem examinations) on the animals found the whales had ingested large quantities of plastic during their travels around the world’s oceans—findings replicated in several other investigations on beached whales.
Whilst such foreign materials can cause damage to the digestive system, the worse effect is the slow lingering death the creatures often suffer from a perhaps unexpected cause—they slowly starve to death. The reason? Quite simply the discarded junk collects in their stomachs, causing the whales to feel full and lose their appetite so they stop feeding.
And it is not just whales either—this effect of discarded plastic has been observed in the chicks of seabirds too, where they have been inadvertently fed such items as ring pulls, shreds of plastic bags, plastic pots and even cigarette lighters by their parents. The study of the Midway Island chicks found that they too—just like the whales—stopped feeding as they lost their appetite and slowly died.
OK, we hear you ask—what has all this got to do with us in Marbella? Well, there is something you can do to help—dispose of your waste properly and, even better, reuse and recycle whenever you can. At Manifesto we have always recycled all our paper and we are pleased to see several businesses in the Centro Commercial Guadalmina where our office is based doing their bit too.
One coffee shop charges a fairly hefty premium if you want to take out a coffee in a disposable cup with plastic lid—but take in a normal mug (or buy one of the re-usable cups they sell) and the price comes down.
A nearby restaurant, which serves takeaway food, provides re-usable containers and asks customers to bring them back the next time they order. It may not sound much, but if every business on the Costa del Sol came up with similar initiatives far less plastic rubbish would find its way into the sea and thus into the stomachs of whales, dolphins and even giant turtles, or fed to young chicks—and the environment would be in a much better condition.
So for the sake of the planet’s wildlife—please recycle and dispose of your rubbish properly. And if you run a business, why don’t you think about what you can do to help keep the environment clean?
Photo courtesy of The Inertia.