700 Marine Species Threatened by Plastic Debris: Study

London: Nearly 700 species of marine animal are threatened by man-made debris such as plastic and glass, according to a new global study.
Researchers at Plymouth University in the UK found evidence of 44,000 animals and organisms becoming entangled in, or swallowing debris, from reports recorded from across the world.
Plastic accounted for nearly 92 per cent of cases, and 17 per cent of all species involved were found to be threatened or near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s Red List, including the Hawaiian monk seal, the loggerhead turtle and sooty shear-water.
In a paper published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, authors Sarah Gall and Professor Richard Thompson present evidence collated from a wide variety of sources on instances of entanglement, ingestion, physical damage to ecosystems, and rafting - where species are transported by debris.
"The impact of debris on marine life is of particular concern, and effects can be wide reaching, with the consequence of ingestion and entanglement considered to be harmful. Reports in the literature began in the 1960s with fatalities being well documented for birds, turtles, fish and marine mammals," said Gall.
In total, they found that 693 species had been documented as having encountered debris, with nearly 400 involving entanglement and ingestion.
These incidents had occurred around the world, but were most commonly reported off the east and west coasts of North America, as well as Australia and Europe.
Plastic rope and netting were responsible for the majority of entanglements, with a high number of incidents affecting northern right whales, green, loggerhead and hawks-bill turtles, and the northern fulmar.

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