Q. Gibson / University of North Florida, NMFS LOC No. 14157

FL - Marine Conservationists Sound Alarm About Hazardous Plastics in Florida

Plastic waste kills and injures more sea turtles, manatees and marine mammals off the coasts of Florida and neighboring states than in any other region in the United States, according to an in-depth analysis of federal and state data.

Since 2009, nearly 1,000 endangered or threatened sea turtles found injured or dead along southern coastlines had eaten or become entangled in plastic waste, according to the report by Oceana, a nonprofit ocean advocacy group founded by Pew Charitable Trusts, Oak Foundation, Marisla Foundation (formerly Homeland Foundation), Sandler Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

In the same time period, 700 manatees — Florida’s iconic mammals — and 45 other endangered or threatened marine mammals found dead or injured in the same region had eaten or been ensnared in plastic.

By far, the leading culprit was recreational fishing line, typically monofilament that is difficult to break or dislodge, the data says.

“Oceana surveyed dozens of government agencies, organizations and institutions that collect data on the impact of plastic on marine mammals and sea turtles in the United States. We found records of almost 1,800 animals from 40 different species swallowing plastic or becoming entangled in it,” says the report, titled “The Plastics Crisis Unfolding in Our Oceans.”

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