This past weekend, a young Cuvier’s beaked whale washed up on the Philippine island of Mindanao with 88 pounds of plastic crammed into its stomach. The emaciated animal likely died of dehydration and starvation, unable to get any food past the mass of plastic bags, rice sacks, and tangled nylon ropes.
Scientists have estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. While whales and sea turtles are perhaps the most visible victims of this pollution, they are far from alone. Plastics have worked their way into the entire ocean food chain, starting with microbes and filter feeders and ending up on our own dinner plates.
“Because it’s designed to last forever, when [plastic] accidentally gets into the ocean, it doesn’t go away,” said Northeastern researcher Ethan Edson, addressing a small crowd on the 9th floor of Renaissance Park as part of the Contemporary Issues in Security and Resilience Studies speaker series.
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