By Niklas Manger, project leader and guide at Cabo Trek
In the past week fishermen found a washed-up sperm whale on the coast of Indonesia, with more than 6 kilos of plastic in its stomach. The park’s conservation academy found more than 1,000 assorted pieces of plastic including flip-flops, bottles, bags and 115 drinking cups. Unfortunately, this not a unique case and it happens to more and more marine animals, especially whales and dolphins. Every year more than 10 million tons of plastic enter the oceans and endanger around 700 different species. Today plastic is used for almost everything, so through bad disposal and washing of plastic textiles plastic finds its way through rivers and lakes. This way thousands of plastic bags, cups and other single use items end up in our oceans. The problem is that plastic is not bio degradable and takes years to fall into smaller parts (micro-plastic). For example, a plastic cub takes 500 years to dissolve. Most of the marine animals can’t distinguish plastic from its normal food. In zooplankton, for example, it corresponds with the concentration of tiny plastic particles in the water because their feeding appendages are designed to handle particles of a certain size. If the particle falls into this size range it must be food. This leads to animals hurting their digestive systems and even starving to death, even though their stomach is full. The problem doesn’t stop there. If small fish, crabs and shrimps eat plastic and get eaten by bigger fish, the micro plastic is given from animal to animal until even we humans consume it.
In the current development, there will be more plastic particles in the ocean than fish until 2050. We as consumers have a massive impact on these outcomes. There needs to be a change of mind and everyone must take part in it, especially people on their vacation, when consumption is at its highest.
Companies such as Cabo Trek are starting various projects to reduce single use plastic like water bottles and snack-packages on their tours and start offering eco-friendly options. The intention is to create a sustainable learning environment while showing the oceans beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.