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Plastic from a Dead Animals Gut, What to Do With it?

Lately I’ve been thinking about more effective ways of doing the work I’m doing and something struck me that I thought I could write about on here.

The number of cases of animals in or near New Zealand waters who have died from the effects of consuming plastic, seems to be increasing. Or at the very least, it is being reported far more frequently.

These animals confuse plastic bags and other pieces of plastic waste with the creatures or things which they usually eat or prey on. It isn’t hard to see the similarities between a plastic bag and a jellyfish for example. When these sick or deceased animals appear on a New Zealand beach, researchers will partake in a post-mortem examination of the animal and what caused its death, they usually find ridiculous amounts of plastic filling the gastrointestinal system.  The consumption of plastic generally leads to the animal suffering a very slow and painful death, usually by starvation, (I will arrive at my idea shortly, we just need to illuminate the context leading to my thought). As with anybody who isn’t completely apathetic, I tend to get quite upset by the thought of this. However, after a while I began to wonder what they do with the plastic that they remove from these animals. Do they put it in a recycling bin? Do they incinerate it? Do they keep it for testing?

How brilliantly poignant would it be to turn the plastic from within an animal into a “portrait” of the said animal. A lot of people see the article headlines which read something along the lines of “Whale washes up on beach, Stomach full of plastic” and they think, “oh that’s sad”. It isn’t enough of a response, they tend to forget about it the next day. I think that if the people are shown the absolute mass of what was inside of the animal, in a very visual literal form, they will think about it in more depth and feel empathy towards the creatures who are dying due to our collective carelessness. I think that this will also spread the issue further around the internet. All while making use of the waste by producing a tribute to the animal who consumed it.


So, If there are any marine scientists who are reading this, I’d love to hear what you think!