Featured Image Credit: DAVID DOUBILET
By: Sarah Sharkey
Another animal death was attributed to plastic earlier this summer. The unfortunate victim of senseless human trash was a young harp seal pup. It was found on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. The pup was found dead, but its body was transported to the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme. The organization investigates deaths of marine mammals found in Scottish waters.
In the autopsy, the veterinarian found a small square of plastic in the animal’s stomach. The young pup was likely only between 8 months and 1 year old. In addition to the plastic, there were ulcerations in the stomach that indicate that the plastic may have been there for some time.
Finding plastic in a seal’s stomach is apparently a very rare occurrence because these seals are intelligent enough to determine the difference between plastic and prey most of the time. Usually, seals fall victim to entanglements with fishing gear instead of death by plastic ingestion.
The death of this seal shows just how prevalent plastic trash is in our oceans. No animal is immune to the horrors associated with the plastic epidemic. The trash is just impossible to avoid for many of the animals in our oceans. Over 700 species are known to eat plastic regularly because they thought it was food. The death of these animals is needless, cleaning up our oceans and reducing plastic waste needs to be a top priority.