Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra

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PLASTIC, PLASTIC, PLASTIC

Plastic, plastic, plastic, itís in our soil, itís in our water its everywhere. Sadly too often we learn of a whale dying because they have digested hundreds of pound of plastic bottles, or bags, the same goes for many other large ocean dwellers. Humans have caused needless deaths because of their love of plastics.

Plastic not only kills are large sea inhabitants but many tiny and small ones, today we will learn about the poor hermit crabs and their problems with plastic.

More than half a million hermit crabs died after being trapped in an 'avalanche' of plastic trash on two remote island groups, implying concern that the deaths could be part of a worldwide species decline. In a frightening report of their trip to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands two years prior, researchers remembered seeing beaches that were "literally drowning in [an estimated 414 million pieces of] plastic."

Researchers discovered that 508,000 crabs were trapped in those plastics and passed away on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands archipelago in the Indian Ocean, along with 61,000 on Henderson Island in the South Pacific. Hermit crabs lured into unsafe plastic bottles they cannot climb out of resulting in their deaths.

The dilemma worsened as hermit crabs detect recently departed crabs for hunting newly available shells, which attracts multiple crabs, these numerous crabs becomes trapped in the same area. More than 500 crabs, in a case, were found in a single plastic container.  It only takes one crab to start a chain reaction and the deaths of hundreds of crabs. Since hermit crabs do not have their own shell, these creatures emit a chemical signal there's a shell available when one of their buddies die, which attracts more crabs.

There were high levels of plastic pollution at both sites. Cocos Islands and Henderson Island are highly contaminated, with 414m and 38m pieces of debris, correspondingly, found on their beaches and in nearby shrubs.

The plastic entangles and is ingested by wildlife in the ocean; it also acts as a trap on land but can also be a physical barrier to species moving along the ground, the potential for plastics to cause damage on land has been under-acknowledged. The results are shocking but not surprising since a wide range of wildlife frequents beaches and the vegetation that fringes them. Plastic, plastic, plastic is everywhere we canít get away from our beloved plastic.

With the deaths of hermit crabs on these islands, it is important that we investigate the hermit crab population all around the world, it is obvious that plastic is killing off the population of hermit crabs not by ingestion of the plastic, but because hermit crabs want to use plastic containers as their home which ends up as their death sentence.

Plastic is also killing oysters, small plastic particles, or microplastics, found in many toothpastes and cosmetics are endangering Pacific oysters and their reproduction, according to a new study from France's national marine research agency. While scientists have known for some time that microplastics greatly impact marine life, what's surprising about the recent study is how those tiny grains can impact future generations.

Oysters rely on a filter-feeding system, so they are prone to ingesting tiny plastic particles along with many other things in the water. Researchers tested Pacific oysters in tanks and found that oysters exposed to microplastics produced smaller eggs and less mobile sperm compared to a control group of oysters in a tank that did not contain microplastics. after two months of consuming plastics, oysters produced 41 percent fewer offspring, which grew more slowly than normal. Millions of tons of plastics wind up in the world's oceans every year, and it is estimated that by around 2050 there will be more plastic than fish, by weight..

While birds and sea turtles have been seen chocking on plastic debris in the ocean, and whales and sharks die from plastic blocking their guts. Researchers are not entirely sure how these tiny plastics are impacting oysters. It may be that they are interfering with oysters' hormones, blocking their digestive systems and making it harder for them to eat food and get energy. The oysters may be mistaking microplastic particles for phytoplankton, as they are about the same size.

We can stop this plastic pollution by simply putting pressure on companies to stop putting microplastics in their products. If they donít then we must stop buying the items and in the end the company will listen to the consumer. And the microplastics will not be used. And small ocean creatures will not die from plastics. We must do something fast because our beloved plastics are killing everything on the planet and eventually us.

We lived for hundreds of years with out plastic, and we can again. It may cause some inconvenience for humans but the reward will be awesome and we will be saving hundreds of ocean animals and land animals.

We need to get rid of plastic, plastic, plastic.

 

 

Tammy

 

 

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