For two months, Greenpeace conducted a scientific expedition aboard the Beluga II uncovering plastic on more than 30 beaches of Scotland. From May to June, researchers sailed in remote areas of the United Kingdom (UK), around Scottish coastlines, investigating beaches and wildlife habitats. Although these areas are largely unpopulated by human beings, researchers found they are subject to loads of environmental damage due to plastic.
Working with the Scottish Seabird Centre, the Marine Conservation Society, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, and RSPB Scotland, the Beluga II expedition discovered plastic and microplastic in the nests and beaks of seabirds as well as the habitats of seals, puffins, porpoises, and basking sharks.
Two-thirds of the world’s gannet population reside in the UK. Researchers found Bass Rock – home to more than 150,000 gannets – littered with plastic bags and fishing gear. This gannet, pictured below, was luckily helped and returned to its home without entanglement.
A whopping twelve tons of plastic enters the ocean every year, which means all of these pristine creatures are unknowingly ingesting poison. Harbor seals are subject to much of the worst abuse: potential strangulation, lashing, and tearing. Sadly, even the pups are at risk.
A petition will be delivered to Scotland’s Environmental Secretary Rosanna Cunningham asking for a bottle deposit return program. This adds a purchase charge to plastic bottled drinks, which is returned to people when they return their bottles.
But a larger impact could be had by cutting back on plastic usage overall. Corporations like Coca-Cola favor one-use only plastic versus recycled because it’s cheaper, blaming consumers for littering. But consumers aren’t asking for one-use only plastic.
Coke has a highly publicized #ShareaCoke social media campaign. An easily-filled request to help hold the Coke brand responsible for pollution by Greenpeace: Any time at all you see a coke bottle share it with the hashtags #EndOceanPlastics and #ShareaCoke.
“With a truckload of plastic entering the ocean every minute, we need urgent action from governments and from major soft drinks companies which produce billions of single-use plastic bottles every year, like Coca-Cola, to stop the flow of plastic into the sea,” offered Tisha Brown of Greenpeace UK.
Do you know how much plastic you use? Find out here: https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/content/plastics-calculator
What you think is a small amount may shock you!
Look for the the full laboratory analysis of the Beluga II study later this year after. In the meantime, regardless of the devastating results, we know the benefits of going plastic-free. We can all do more to save the oceans and the life of defenseless marine animals.