Recently, a 47-foot-long adult male sperm whale beached itself in the Florida Keys. The magnificent animal, which typically lives in deeper water offshore, was emaciated. After stranding in the shallow waters around the Mud Keys, north of Key West, it tragically died.
A necropsy revealed a tangled mass of plastic bags, fishing line and tattered fishing nets had blocked the whale's stomach, preventing it from absorbing nutrients. The knotted mass of plastic debris caused the whale to starve to death.
The loss of this sperm whale should be an eye-opener for all of us, and its death should beg the question as to why we aren't doing more to protect our ocean from the marine debris that is choking it out.
You have the power to speak out and demand change for our ocean and the marine life that depends on it.
This tragedy is appalling on so many levels, and it's not an isolated event. Our reliance on plastics and our failure to address abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear, also known as ghost gear, has made our ocean inhospitable to vast swaths of iconic marine life, including whales, dolphins, fish, turtles and manatees. A single abandoned net is estimated to kill an average of 500,000 marine invertebrates, 1,700 fish and four seabirds. An Ocean Conservancy study found that ghost gear is the single most harmful form of plastic pollution.
Currently, there is no robust global legislation to regulate plastic pollution, including ghost gear. The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) based in Kenya is the world's highest-level decision-making body on the environment and sets priorities for global environmental policies and develops international environmental law. UNEA convened at the start of March and approved a resolution mandating that an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee negotiate a new international agreement on plastic pollution. Please take a moment to urge them to call out ghost gear as part of the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution. Take action now and demand change.