Plastic Pollution and Marine Biodiversity

This talk shop organised by Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum was highly educational, opening my eyes to the sad but true reality of the dismal state of marine debris and the harsh impacts on our marine biodiversity. (Marine debris/litter is any persistent, manufactured or processed solid waste material discarded, disposed of or abandoned in marine and coastal environment.) This pollution is everywhere with 7000-250000 metrics tons of plastic debris in oceans today that can be extremely harmful for all kinds of marine biodiversity.

As I was previously not very familiar with marine biodiversity or plastic pollution in our oceans, I wanted to take this opportunity to learn something new and further educate myself on this topic. I’m really thankful that I took some time out to attend this online talk because I definitely learnt a lot and was exposed to this topic in an engaging manner, learning plenty of fascinating facts. Unfortunately, most of these facts had a more somber undertone to them given the gravity of this crisis we are facing today.

For example, 100% of all beached seabirds have plastics in their stomach. Additionally, micro plastics have a very high risk of entering our food web with an average human ingesting 5 grams of plastic a week (equivalent weight of credit card)! To top it off, the COVID-19 situation could potentially push us back 10 years in terms of plastic usage due to excessive usage of disposable plastics such as plastic food containers 😦

If anything, this experience simply heightened my awareness and want to do my part as best as I can to protect our marine biodiversity and limit my plastic usage as far as possible. Even the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) can be a powerful habit if everyone readily adopts it!

A key story that was told was of the 15 July 2015 incident with the Jubi Lee sperm whale case – the sperm whale washed up dead on with plenty of plastic contained in its stomach and its spine fractured. Having visited the museum before and seeing the fragments first hand was a particularly heart wrenching moment and I really want to revisit that place again with this new found knowledge allowing me to better understand it! Hopefully I can go there with some friends and family to raise their awareness of this issue as well!

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