I have always been fascinated by oceans and the species that live there. Among those species are the belugas also called “white whales”. You can recognize them easily thanks to their white color and the shape of their head. But, these beautiful creatures are threatened by plastic pollution, even in the most remote Arctic waters.
According to a study, researchers have found that 21% of 5 species of Artic fish, which are the prey of belugas, had ingested microplastics. Moreover, researchers also found microplastics in the bodies of seven belugas from an Indigenous hunt in the western Canadian Arctic. That study estimated the whales ingest upwards of 145,000 particles of microplastics a year. Rhiannon Moore, who is the lead author of the study, said that this confirms belugas are likely ingesting the plastics through their prey.
She also revealed: “It’s a worry because plastic, as we know, is everywhere, and we don’t really know the long-term effect of all the different types of plastic that are ending up in these species”.
Is plastic pollution everywhere?
As you may know, microplastics are particles of plastic which size is less than five millimeters. But what you may not know is that almost 80% of the particles found in the stomachs of fish studied came from textiles and clothing. Those particles were released because of the laundry process.
What is more surprising is that the latest study identified the Arctic deep-sea as a potential source of plastic accumulation. Indeed, plastic pollution is everywhere, even in the deeps of the Arctic since belugas are known to dive to depths greater than 1000 meters.
Peter Ross, a senior scientist with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and a co-author of the report, said evidence suggests that microplastics in the Arctic are largely making their way on currents from the Atlantic Ocean. He added that there was “near universal contamination” of the water in the Arctic.
How can we save them?
Belugas are beautiful and sociable creatures that need to be protected from pollution. And, Moore said she is hoping that this discovery will make people start taking action. “Everyone loves whales, and nobody really wants whales to be threatened in any way,” she said. But how can we do beterre?
Since we know that washing our clothes releases microplastics, we need to be careful when buying clothes. Indeed, we need to choose clothes that don’t contain microplastic. So please avoid buying cheap clothing that is made of acrylic for instance. We also need to wash our clothes less often and wash them with an eco-friendly product.