The world’s oceans have trash troubles…and it’s getting worse. Just this spring a dead whale was found washed up on a beach in the Philippines. Scientists were curious and wanted to know why the whale died. What they learned made them very sad, and then angry. What did they find?
100 pounds of plastic in its stomach.
Eighty-eight pounds of that plastic were just plastic shopping bags, like the kind you see in grocery stores. As terrible as this sounds, the whale’s death is not the only death happening in the sea. Right now, scientists say that at least five countries dump their plastic into the ocean on purpose. Those countries are Thailand, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Last fall a whale died with over 100 plastic drinking cups in its stomach. Another one, that summer died with 20 pounds of plastic bags in its stomach. And whales aren’t the only sea creatures who are suffering. Small plastic pieces, called Nurdles, are causing severe harm to a wide variety of marine life.
What are Nurdles Anyway?
Nurdles are super tiny pellets that are melted to produce almost all things plastic. But, when they end up in the water, they look like food to marine life, including turtles, whales, dolphins, seals, fish and even seagulls and sea birds. Once an animal swallows these nurdles, they can’t digest them. The small plastic pellets stay in the animal’s stomach, taking up space that the food would have used. Without space in its belly for food, the animal starves to death slowly.
Nurdles are also toxic. That means when they stay in the water, or inside of an animal, long enough, some of the chemicals go into the animal, which can cause them to die from poisoning. Human beings who catch fish with these pellets in them may be eating poisoned fish.
What Can be Done?
Some things are already being done, but it isn’t enough. Many scientists in the world’s nations are trying to solve the problem. In most countries, there are rules about how nurdles can be used, and how they must be stored. But many companies break the rules, and the nurdles end up in the waterway anyway. When enough people voice their concern, change happens. It is great to care about the planet and its creatures. But unless people speak out when something wrong is happening, nothing changes. There are right and wrong ways to speak out. Here are the right ways:
- Send a respectful email to your leaders. You can find their email addresses online, easily.
- Create an eco-club at your school to learn more and to join your voice with others. We can help with that, too!
- Make a phone call. When kids call their representatives, they listen…because kids don’t usually call unless it is important.
- Visit them in person (same reason…nobody comes to visit them unless it’s important).
- Create a poster with a message and fax it to your government leaders.
- Reduce the amount of plastic you use at home, and at school.
- Convince your school or town to find other options for plastic straws, plastic forks, spoons, and knives, as well as the plastic bags used for groceries and shopping.
- Don’t take anything plastic near the water, especially if you live in a place near the ocean, river, streams or lakes.
Nurdles are NOT for turtles…or any other sea creature. Make sure you only contact YOUR leader in government, you are polite, you tell them why you are contacting them and why it is important. Use facts and research to prove you know what you are talking about. Let them know you are a kid…it does matter.
Spartan and the Green Egg Series is an adventure-themed graphic novel, whose characters travel the world learning about people and places with their out-of-the-world friend, Egg. Written by Nabila Khashoggi, this award-winning, green life series brings the world’s cultures and ecosystems into sharp focus, set against the backdrop of action and adventure for the 7-12 year-old set.
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