GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) –
Officials at the Institute of Marine Mammal Science in Gulfport say they found the deceased loggerhead turtle with plastic deeply embedded in its nostrils.
The plastic had been there so long, it eventually took the shape of the animal’s nose.
On Thursday, IMMS researchers removed the plastic to demonstrate how it contributed to the turtle’s death. Officials hope the examination process will allow people to have a better understanding of how harmful plastics can be to wildlife and humans.
“What we’re trying to do here is show people that there are consequences to the use of plastics and the improper disposal of plastics. We’re not recycling plastics as well as we should, and they’re not going away just because it’s not something we necessarily see anymore, ” said Tim Morgan, associate professor of pathology at Mississippi State University. “They stick around in the environment and they can have some pretty devastating effects on animals in the marine environment, as well as animals on land.”
Once plastic is disposed of, it doesn’t just disappear. Often times it ends up negatively impacting wildlife.
“Ultimately, the plastic that we throw into the ocean breaks down into micro plastics, ” said Veterinarian Debra Moore.
Moore says micro plastics attract toxins and are eaten by smaller organisms. In turn, those organisms are eaten by fish, which are then eaten by humans.
“Where does it end up ultimately? On our dinner plates. We love fish. We love crab. We love oysters, ” Moore said.
Plastics end up in landfills or the ocean and have created a huge problem all over the world; killing more than 100, 000 marine animals a year.
“If we want fisheries, we want to give them the habit. It’d be no different than throwing the trash in my home and hoping I’d live a happy life, ” said IMMS President Dr. Moby Solangi.