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Plastic pollution threatens ocean animals: Study

ANI | Updated: Jul 05, 2019 18:19 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], July 5 (ANI): Every day our environment is being threatened by endless plastic pollution in the ocean, resulting to which hundreds of sharks and rays are found tangled in plastic waste, reported a study.
Scientists scoured existing published studies and Twitter for shark and ray entanglements and found reports of more than 1,000 entangled individuals.
They said the true number is likely to be far higher, as few studies have focussed on plastic entanglement among shark and rays.
The study which published in the journal of Endangered Species Research, stated such entanglement mostly involving lost or discarded fishing gear is a "far lesser threat" to sharks and rays than commercial fishing, but the suffering it causes is a major animal welfare concern.
"One example in the study is a shortfin mako shark with fishing rope wrapped tightly around it," said Kristian Parton, one of the researchers of the study.
"The shark had clearly continued growing after becoming entangled, so the rope which was covered in barnacles had dug into its skin and damaged its spine. Although we don't think entanglement is a major threat to the future of sharks and rays, it's important to understand the range of threats facing these species, which are among the most threatened in the oceans," he added.
"Due to the threats of direct over-fishing of sharks and rays, and 'bycatch' (accidental catching while fishing for other species), the issue of entanglement has perhaps gone a little under the radar," co-author professor Brendan Godley, said.
"We set out to remedy this. Our study was the first to use Twitter to gather such data, and our results from the social media site revealed entanglements of species and in places not recorded in the academic papers," he added.
The review of academic papers found reports of 557 sharks and rays entangled in plastic, spanning 34 species in oceans including the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian. Almost 60% of these animals were either lesser spotted dogfish, spotted ratfish or spiny dogfish.
On Twitter, the researchers found 74 entanglement reports involving 559 individual sharks and rays from 26 species including whale sharks, great whites, tiger sharks and basking sharks.
Both data sources suggested "ghost" fishing gear (nets, lines, and other equipment lost or abandoned) were by far the most common entangling objects. Other items included strapping bands used in packaging, polythene bags, and rubber tyres. (ANI)