Happy World Whale Day
Although we don't have any whales roaming our seas around Singapore, plastic waste from our shores still pose a threat to all marine habitats and aquatic life nonetheless. For centuries, whales as a species have been highly susceptible to the action of Man. They have been hunted for their blubber (overfishing), being physically entangled in plastic in the ocean; usually in the form of fishing nets and rope that's been abandoned or disposed of irresponsibly (entanglement), and ocean plastic pollution; which is doing much more than cluttering our beaches and collecting in gyres. The pollution is affecting individual animals, from the tiniest zooplankton to the largest whales, in their environment and inside their bodies.
The Importance Of Whales
Did you know that whales sequester carbon too? A whale captures the same amount of carbon as 1,000 trees on average in its lifetime. They fertilize marine ecosystems and even help us fight the climate crisis. Their health is a critical indicator of ocean health.
Effects Of Ocean Plastic Pollution
Ocean plastic waste have been found to be an excellent surface for chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) to cling to, after entering the water as runoff, spills, or other waste. These pollutants can enter a whale’s body when the plastic is ingested and are sometimes stored within their blubber. Through bioaccumulation, in which a predator’s body processes or stores pollutants from multiple prey, species that are at the top of the food chain are the most likely to accumulate the highest amounts of these chemicals. Many whale species have been found with the highest amount of POPs in their body.
Microplastics & The Ocean
Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimeters in length (or about the size of a sesame seed) are called “microplastics". These tiny particles easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in the ocean, posing a potential threat to marine wildlife. To date, there is an estimated 24.4 trillion pieces of microplastics in the world's upper oceans, with a combined weight of 82,000 to 578,000 tons, an equivalent of roughly 30 billion 500-ml plastic water bottles. Worst part is, no one has figured out how to reverse this phenomenon or remove these pollutants.
How You Can Help
A common cause of microplastic pollution is through the use of synthetic microfiber cloths, melamine sponges, plastic composite cleaning products, etc. When you use synthetic plastic cleaning products over long periods of time, unnoticeable to you small bits of microplastic will naturally enter the waterways and accumulate in the ocean. Thus, our solution: Swop out plastic/synthetic cleaning products for a plant-based sponge cloth. It's biodegradable and compostable as nature has intended. Be kind to our oceans and whales.