Whale Shark Washes Ashore in Florida

Whale Shark Washes Ashore in Florida!

 

Photo Credit: ("Juvenile Whale Shark Washes Ashore in Florida. But What Killed It?," 26)

I was deeply saddened when I read this article a few weeks ago describing how beach goers in the neighboring town of Sanibel Island, about an hour from our home, discovered a young whale shark washed ashore.  Videos of this majestic creature washing back and forth on the sand resonated with me and drove home the point that we must become better stewards of our Oceans for future generations. 

A few years ago, I was able to fulfill one of my bucket list adventures of snorkeling with these magnificent animals and was in awe of their size, beauty, and grace.  These peaceful creatures are not predators and feed on plankton by sucking in large amounts of water and filtering through their gills.  It is heartbreaking to think that our negligence could be the root cause of this misfortune for an animal that should live up to 100-150 years old.

Video Here:

https://www.facebook.com/desiaree.mclaughlin/videos/10150474293081429/?t=1

Scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory are examining the cause of death and suspect it may be due to high concentrations of “red tide”, a toxic algae bloom which has become increasingly problematic since the state has redirected runoff from lake Okeechobee which contains heaps of fertilizer from Big Sugar corporations which exacerbate the algae growth.   Learn more about the problem here: https://www.bullsugar.org/florida_water_quality

 

(Photo Credit: Greg Lovett, AP)

This whale shark is not an isolated incident, last Spring a sperm whale was found deceased with 65lbs of plastic in its stomach in a resort town in Southeastern Spain. 

 

Photo Credit: (Dirección General de Medio Natural. Consejería de Turismo, Cultura y Medio Ambiente (Región de Murcia, España).

It is hard to visualize and wrap your head around the vast amount of plastic pollution that makes its way into the ocean and corrupts the sensitive ecosystem.   One description that hits home according to recent study in the Journal of Scientific Reports, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch alone covers an area three times the size of Franceand equates to250 pieces of refuse for every person on the planet.  250 pieces of trash for every person on the planet and growing daily just in the Pacific alone.  If this is not wake up call for change I don’t know what is. 

What can we do?  As an individual, we must change our consumer behavior to eliminate our single use plastic products that end up in landfills or our oceans (plastic bags, water bottles, straws etc). We can unite with like-minded people to promote small scale cleanups, educate others, and increase awareness about the problem.  Communities can advocate for changes in their cities and towns as well as put pressure on businesses to adopt environmentally friendly practices.

It’s not all bad news, there are success stories every day as industry giants succumb to the pressure of the people and have agreed to ban plastic straws in their stores worldwide.  More and more cities are taking steps to ban plastic bottles and plastic grocery bags in an effort to become eco-friendly.  

In a future Blog, I want to share a story about a local hero that started a movement getting restaurants to remove plastic waste from their businesses.

Do you have any local heroes or success stories you want to share? Send us a message at: trashswag@gmail.com

 Lets make an impact together!

~ Desiree 

References

65 Pounds of Plastic Trash Tore This Whale Apart from the Inside. (10, April). Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/62266-dead-sperm-whale-plastic-bags.html

Juvenile Whale Shark Washes Ashore in Florida. But What Killed It? (26, July). Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/63165-whale-shark-death.html

 

 

 


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