The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Did you know that whales can have tongues as heavy as an elephant and a heart the size of a car, but their throats are incredibly tiny? For instance, blue whales—the largest animals on Earth—have throats about the size of a beach ball so they can dine on krill and zooplankton.
So it's no wonder that this big, beautiful creature, found by a group of fishermen in Middle Harbour, Sydney, was struggling with a plastic bag and fishing line caught in its mouth. One of the men, Ivan Iskenderian, was able to lean over his boat and remove the waste from the whale, the Daily Telegraph reported.
“It was right on his lip ... he seemed like he wanted it off,” Iskenderian told the publication. He added that the whale appeared to show its appreciation by slapping its fin on the water.
Ron Kovacs captured video of the encounter and also attempted to relieve the whale. “He had a big scar on his back, and some fishing line and two plastic bags on his head,” he said, according to the Independent.
“He [kept] popping his head up so you could reach out and remove the garbage. He tried on my boat bit [it was] a bit harder as we are a bit higher—I made one grab for the bag but missed," he said. “He later came up to a trailer boat and presented his head as they removed the bag and [then] the fishing line. It was as if he wanted them to take it off.”
This particular whale appears to be the endangered Southern right whale, according to marine biologist Tegan A. L. Mortimer. She told EcoWatch that these whales are found all around the temperate and sub-tropical Southern Hemisphere and related to more endangered species, the North Pacific right whale and the North Atlantic right whale.
Mortimer, who is researching the impact of plastic pollution on mysticete whales including humpback within Massachusetts Bay, said that this story reminds us all that these creatures live in our backyards and are impacted by human activities.
"Globally, the leading threats to whales, dolphins and porpoises are entanglement in fishing gear and strikes from vessels," she said. "The impacts of plastic pollution on these animals isn't well understood but we do know, from examples like this, that these animals are interacting with our plastic trash. Plastic in the ocean is something that everyone can have a positive impact on."
A recent study found that 8 million metric tons of plastic waste is dumped into the world's oceans every year, or as Mortimer puts it: "That's five shopping bags filled with plastic trash for every foot of coastline in the world!"
This is why I hate the overuse of carrier bags! Fishermen removes plasticbag from whale who approached them for help http://t.co/tSd3jyESad
— Sarah Robertson (@sarahcaseupton) August 13, 2015
It's abundantly clear that we all must act on plastic waste. "Just by reducing your personal plastic footprint through using reusable products makes a big impact in the flow of plastic into the ocean," Mortimer said.
Mortimer also advised that if you ever find yourself in a situation like this, in many cases, assisting distressed marine animals can be very dangerous. Most areas have trained responders that people should call if they come across a marine animal in trouble, she said.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."