Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Plastic debris and its impacts on marine mammals

In recent decades, global plastic consumption has rapidly increased. Large quantities of plastics enter the environment in various ways, often ending up in the oceans. Plastic debris is nowadays found in any aquatic ecosystems. Due to its long durability, plastics may drift around with ocean currents for decades. Nowadays, plastic debris can be found in any aquatic ecosystem. Eventually, plastics decay into smaller fragments and sink to the seafloor. Marine mammals are affected by plastics in three major ways: They confuse large pieces of plastics with food, they become entangled in fishing nets, and they ingest smaller plastic fragments together with prey items. Here we discuss causes and solutions to these problems. We use exercises to investigate plastic debris in the environment and discuss how we all can become part of the solution through our own actions.

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