Me to the sea: our daily actions can help the ocean

  • 08 June 2017

World Oceans Day is a day dedicated to celebrating the world’s oceans, their amazing diversity and the critical role they play in sustaining life on land.

A healthy world for humans depends on healthy oceans. We can no longer enjoy the luxury of talking about marine conservation in terms of the benefit to our children and grandchildren – marine conservation needs to benefit us NOW as well as in the future.

Daisy the seal celebrates World Oceans Day. (Image: uShaka Sea World)

You wouldn’t intentionally drop plastic into the ocean as it's well known to be harmful to marine life but what is less well known are our silent/invisible/soundless plastic deposit/drops. This year on World Oceans Day uShaka Sea World is highlighting one of these less obvious ways plastic ends up in the ocean – through microbeads.

In one 250ml of body wash or standard toothpaste tube you would find an average of 240 000 microbeads – that’s two teaspoons of plastic microbeads heading straight for the ocean though our drains, sewer systems and waterways.

A recent example of the harm microplastic causes to marine life was when Pip, a two-month-old turtle hatchling was brought into the uShaka Sea World rehabilitation centre after stranding on a Scottburgh beach.

A few days after he arrived he defecated several  pieces of plastic and, despite all the care given to Pip, he did not make it and died two weeks after arrival. His necropsy revealed he still had more tiny pieces of plastic and signs of an infection in his gut.

Due to their small size microbeads are eaten by a range of marine animals  and not only zooplankton but fish, seabirds, crustaceans, turtles, mussels and marine mammals.

Next time you are shopping for toiletries and want to avoid purchasing products that contain microbeads look on the labelling for the following words: Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene(PP), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA),  Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Nylon (PA) – these all indicate the product contains microbeads.

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