Sharks Strangled By Plastic

A study published earlier this month, in the journal Endangered Species Reports, reports that it is estimated that there have been 1000 reports of sharks and rays getting entangled in plastic waste.

With this chilling number only including entanglement mentions in scientific journals and - to the other extreme - on Twitter that can only sadly mean there have been far more many unreported instances.

Of course, plastic isn't the main threat to the species — over fishing is a greater one, but this is kicking a species when it is done - quite literally in numbers - and is making an already bad problem, worse.

A stark case in point is when Daniel Abel, a marine biologist at Coastal Carolina University, saw first hand has the appalling impact of plastics on sharks. It was 2015 when he and his students pulled on board a sandbar shark that had become that badly entangled in plastic packaging twine that it was practically slicing the poor fish in two.

Picture: Daniel Abel

Picture: Daniel Abel

Thankfully the shark survived, but had they been a couple of months later then it would have done exactly that - sliced right through it, slowly and painfully.

It may be the plastic that is strangling the sharks, but it’s us as a species that has put it there. We may as well be doing it with our bare hands. It’s not a new problem, but is one that is getting worse as humans become more careless.

One can only hope that with the rise in awareness of how bad single use plastics are that the tide is turning, and is less full of hazardous plastics.

What hints and tips have you got to limit your use of single use plastic or plastic in general?

Words by Dean Newman 

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