The deadliest marine predator: Plastic
By Brinkley Davies
Sharks. Many people associate that word with a feeling of uneasiness. For me, the word puts a smile on my face; I get share the ocean with these magical animals! Here on the Ningaloo Reef, we see sharks every day. The most famous being the Whale Shark, a prehistoric, beautiful, placid and now endangered animal.
Whale Sharks originated around 60 million years ago and for the most part have survived with little to no natural predators, until now. In present times, they’re facing extinction due to anthropogenic pressures on a global scale. They’re now hunted for flesh, liver oil, cartilage and fins which have become increasingly popular. It’s not just the whale shark under threat, but approximately 100 million sharks are falling victim to this industry. While that is among the top reasons these majestic creatures are facing extinction, there is another large danger lurking in our oceans: plastic.
Because of plastic and other pollution on our beaches, sharks are running the race against time. Sharks are one of the many species that suffer from entanglement in plastic pollution, and marine debris. According to Earthday.org, “Many marine organisms can’t distinguish common plastic items from food. Animals who eat plastic often starve because they can’t digest the plastic and it fills their stomachs, preventing them from eating real food.”
We need sharks because they clean our oceans, keep our eco systems
in balance, healthy and thriving. Without sharks the ocean would never
be the same. Here are few key ways you can help our finned friends to
live a plastic free life:
· Use re-usable coffee cups
· Say no to single use plastics like straws, bags, and cutlery
· Pick up rubbish when you see it, on the beach, in the surf or diving
· Support beach clean ups wherever you can
By keeping our beaches clean, you will help to keep our shark friends’ plastic free and in turn, they are able to do their role by keeping our eco systems in balance. Join Reef and Surfrider in the Better Beach Alliance to fight again beach pollution and Beach Freely without plastic, for the sharks <3
-- by Brinkley Davies
BSc Marine Biology, Dive Master
Founding Director, President - Balu Blue Foundation Inc.