Amid the growing call for reducing the use of plastics, the environmental group Oceana has issued the first-ever compilation of the material’s gruesome effects on sea turtles and marine mammals in U.S. waters, with rare animals at risk of dying.
The most common cause of death in the cases documented for the report was plastic ingestion, which disrupts ingestion and leads to starvation, though strangulation and drownings were also reported. Of the 1,792 deaths examined in the report, 80% were threatened or endangered species, with the actual number of ocean fatalities caused by plastics believed to far exceed those reported cases.
And this already dire situation is rapidly getting worse, according to the report, “Choked, Strangled, Drowned: The Plastics Crisis Unfolding in Our Oceans,” released Thursday.
“Plastic production is expected to quadruple in the coming decades and if nothing changes, the amounts of plastic flowing into the ocean is projected to triple by 2040,” said report co-author Christy Leavitt.
“The only way to turn off the tap and protect our oceans is for companies to stop producing unnecessary plastic — and that will require national, state and local governments to pass policies ensuring they do.”