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The Seal Empire under Threat

Northern sea lions choke on plastic garbage

Sea life of Sakhalin is under threat from garbage near the coastline. ‘These animals are wild, so you can’t just come up and help them – it is either impossible or too hard to do. In the end they die. And it’s all because of that garbage,’ says Andrey Vitulin, head of the ecology club. He and his colleagues clear Sakhalin’s beaches from the garbage, which presents the main danger for the Steller sea lions who live there. Today these animals are on the brink of extinction. Steller sea lions often dive into fishing nets and get tangled in plastic ropes. Occasionally the plastic gets wrapped around their necks, slowly suffocating them as they grow. Activists try to capture the sea lions and remove these garrotes, but this procedure is dangerous and hard to perform. Steller sea lions are big, ferocious and mighty, and can easily kill a human.

Sea garbage is a common problem for many water species. Bowhead whales often have deep cuts from ropes on their body, some even lose their limbs or tails attempting to escape fishing nets. Seals strangle themselves in garbage too, sharing the fate of Steller sea lions. The plastic garbage in the ocean is arguably one of the main causes of extinction for many species. What can be done about this tragic situation?