Another unlucky bottlenose dolphin found dead in Samos island last weekend. The Archipelagos team was able to locate the stranded dolphin with the help of local fishermen.
According to researchers at Archipelagos, it was an adult male bottlenose dolphin with a length of three meters. From the autopsy carried out on the spot we could conclude that his death was caused by complications from the piece of plastic, nearly one meter in length, which was found wedged in the esophagus.
From the data collected it is probable to assume that the dolphin had eaten squid shortly before his death and amid bad weather he had confused the piece of plastic for prey and swallowed it.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Archipelagos has previously recorded similar deaths of marine mammals and turtles, which are also due to ingestion of plastic debris. This incident is particularly worrying as while it was an experienced adult, which is regarded for its intelligence, good vision and echolocation, it failed to separate the plastic debris from food.
Archipelagos has highlighted the risks posed to the rich ecosystems of our seas from the inefficient waste management and absent-minded garbage disposal. However the intensive efforts of Archipelagos and other organizations to address the major problems caused by the irresponsible disposal of plastics has not received any meaningful response. The magnitude of the problem caused by plastics must be realized as the consequences are dire. We are finding more and more rare animals dead, throughout Greek territory.
In a press release published at the beginning of the autumn, Archipelagos stressed the catastrophic consequences caused by the thousands of tons of plastic and other debris piled up on the roadsides and other open spaces. Now the first rains have arrived and have washed the plastic into our seas. Once again there was no mobilisation by the responsible authorities nor a reaction from the local communities to this affront to the image of our country. An affront which will prove to be devastating to our ecosystems and to public health. We can all be held complicit for this ongoing crime in Greek seas.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the rapidly growing threat of plastics (which have time and time again have been shown to cause the death of marine organisms) cannot be dealt with by a theoretical approach or by ill-conceived “green practices”. If we really desire to stop this environmental disaster, drastic measures are urgently required. Furthermore, these actions should be substantive and shored up by political decisions, which will provide the legal framework for the proper management of plastics – so common yet so dangerous.
Research Director, Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation