Plastic Pollution, Bag Bans
May 12 2011

It’s a whale of a problem.

by Bill Hickman

A story out of The Associated Press last week reported that "A rare whale has washed up dead in Puerto Rico, and a biologist is blaming plastic bags for its demise.  Nilda Jimenez says that she conducted a necropsy of the Gervais beaked whale and found more than 10 pounds (4.5 kilos) of twisted plastic inside its stomach. The marine mammal specialist said Friday she has no doubt the plastic caused the death by preventing the whale from getting adequate nutrition.

The whale washed up on the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico near the town of Maunabo on Wednesday. But beaked whales are not typically seen around the U.S. island territory, so Jimenez suspects it died recently out in the ocean. The 15-foot (4.6-meter) female juvenile was emaciated and apparently hadn't eaten in many days."

Meanwhile, US states are slow to take action to help prevent plastic bag pollution.  AB 1998 had good traction in California last year but was squashed at the 11th hour by high paid lobbyists from the plastics industry.  Oregon's carryout bag ordinance is on a lifeline as media and decision makers have been assaulted with misinformation.  Other states are hesitant to act which leaves it up to local cities to create a patchwork of ordinances at increased costs.

In England, Ben Fogle has joined forces with Sir David Attenborough to help make a new film about the growing threat of plastic to the wildlife of the ocean and ultimately the human food chain.  It's always great to see high profile people raise awareness for plastic pollution issues - especially when they dive right in!

"The explorer, who first became interested in marine pollution after rowing across the Atlantic, travelled to Sri Lanka to see blue whales in the wild.  But rather than swimming through clear turquoise ocean he found the area was thick with plastic rubbish like disposable cups, carrier bags and food trays.  “I found it quite shocking to swim through a horrible slick of plastic floating on the ocean,” he said. “You name it and we found it – bottles, coat hangars, plastic bags, food packaging. But it’s what’s underneath that’s truly horrifying because as the plastic breaks down into much smaller particles it’s much easier for marine life to swallow. “  Click Here for the full story from England's 'The Telegraph'.