Earlier this month, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWC) officials were called to Fort Myers Beach, where they discovered a seven-foot-long male dolphin.
A necropsy found the plastic hose in the animal’s esophagus and forestomach, the Institute said in a statement on Facebook.
“This is the second stranded dolphin in one month’s time from this region that had ingested plastic – reminding us again to look closely at our habits. Your actions can make a difference – secure and properly dispose of trash, take part in coastal cleanups and share information on how to reduce marine debris with others,” FWC said in the statement.
The agency said that while it is a major finding, “there are many additional factors to consider before a final cause of stranding and death for the dolphin can be determined.”
“Samples collected during necropsy will be sent for analysis to help with this determination,” it noted. “Please remember that marine mammals strand for a reason, often the animals are sick or injured.”
When that happens, the agency is asking people to call its hotline to allow experts to respond.
“Please don’t push the animal back into the water as it can delay examination and treatment and often results in the animal re-stranding in worse condition,” the FWC said.
In less than a month, two dolphins have been found stranded in the area after having ingested plastic.
This year, several whales were found dead around the world with plastic in their stomachs. Over the weekend, it was reported that a young sperm whale washed up in Sicily, Italy, with a stomach full of plastic bags and other items.
In April, a pregnant sperm whale was found with about 50 pounds of plastic in its stomach in Italy.
“I never saw such big quantity of plastic,” said Luca Bittau, a marine biologist at SEAME Sardinia, told National Geographic, adding that researchers “found fishing nets; fishing lines; plastic bags, some so fresh the barcodes were still readable; plastic pipes, and even some plastic plates.”
The Ocean Conservancy reported that single-use plastic items are common in Southeast Asia and China.
The organization said that in 2017, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam dumped more plastic into the world’s oceans that the rest of the world combined.
“We also now have research to suggest that the majority of plastic enters the ocean from a small geographic area, and that over half comes from just five rapidly growing economies—China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam,” it said in a report published in 2018.
“These countries have recently benefited from significant increases in GDP, reduced poverty, and improved quality of life. However, increasing economic power has also generated exploding demand for consumer products that has not yet been met with a commensurate waste-management infrastructure,” it continued.
The report found that China, namely, was “identified … as the largest source of global leakage,” while adding that it is “responsible for 28 percent of global plastic-waste leakage.” That’s in part due to China’s massive population.
“While China also has a substantial waste-picker population (reports indicate as many as 5 million), they are fewer per capita than in many other countries, and they work from fewer waste-aggregation points,” said the group.