By reducing, reusing, recycling and refusing plastics we can keep this killer out of our oceans and away from the amazing animals which call them home!
Since beginning my internship on the KING Seaways with ORCA I have had the privilege to see minke whaless, white beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises and grey seals, as well as numerous seabirds. During the beginning of this week we experienced especially calm seas and in return, were greeted with numerous sightings of harbour porpoises, especially along the Ijmuiden coast. However, towards the end of the week the sea turned very rough and unfortunately it was unsafe for us to conduct a deck watch - I also experienced my first sea sickness as a result!
Saturday also saw the beginning of ORCA OceanWatch, where across the next ten days ORCA will try to gain a snapshot into the oceans wildlife by having Marine Mammal Surveyors out in force across the world's seas and oceans. Research like this is essential as it allows us to gather more data, which can often help towards the protection of marine mammals. The importance of this cannot be overestimated as still over half of all species of marine mammals are classified as data deficient, along with many cetaceans being classified as endangered.
Today however I would like to raise awareness of marine litter in the North Sea, with plastic being the most common type of physical pollutant in our oceans. Marine litter is one of the leading causes of cetacean death killing 100,000 cetaceans and a million seabirds each year. Marine mammals can often die being entangled with plastic or through the consumption of it, as the animal starves to death. Plastic is an unnatural substance meaning it is unable to be broken down once inside an animal's body.
The most common form of plastic I have seen from the ship has been balloons, especially helium, often seeing more than ten balloons during an hour’s deck watch. It's therefore important to not take balloons outside where they can blow away and land in the ocean. Although all types of plastic take thousands of years to degrade, single use plastic are the most harmful as they cannot be reused or recycled and therefore after a single use remains in the environment and our oceans for thousands of years. It's important to try and reduce this threat by refusing unnecessary single use plastic such as straws, plastic cutlery and plastic bags or by trying to reuse them. By reducing, reusing, recycling and refusing plastics we can keep this killer out of the oceans and away from the animals which call them home.
Wildlife Officer Placement - North Sea