Plastic pollution: Birds around the world live in our garbage

As the BBC writes, photographers on all continents except Antarctica have recorded images of birds whose lives are tied to human waste. These images are the result of an online project called “Birds and Garbage” in which photographers from all over the world participated.

Scientists in charge of the project say they have seen birds entangled in or nesting in a variety of trash, from fishing line and string to balloon ribbons and slippers. Almost a quarter of all submitted images depict birds trapped in disposable face masks, which have become very common after the spread of the coronavirus, or using masks while nesting.

Officials of the Birds and Garbage Project are trying to depict the effects of garbage and especially plastic pollution on the world of birds.

A mask wrapped around the neck of a green duck

This image, taken in the United States, shows a green duck with a mask around its neck

the doctor Alex Bonda member of the Natural History Museum of London and one of the researchers involved in the Birds and Garbage project, says: “Basically, if a bird is looking for a nest using long stringy materials such as seaweed, twigs or reeds, it is likely that It uses human waste in part of its nest.

The mentioned project, which was launched four years ago by Dr. Bond and his colleagues, is trying to draw attention to the presence of plastic waste in the environment, which has become a widespread problem around the world.

Two pigeons nesting with cables

This picture shows pigeons in the city of Sussex, New Jersey, USA, who are making nests using cables left in nature.

“When you look for these things, you find them everywhere,” says Dr. Bond. This project has shown the huge geographical extent of plastic waste; We received reports from Japan, Australia, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom and North America. “We are really facing a global problem.”

In a new study, members of the Birds and Litter Project team looked at how many of the images sent to litter related to the spread of the coronavirus were linked to the use of personal protective equipment. The researchers found that personal protective equipment such as masks can be seen in almost a quarter of all the images sent.

A mask wrapped around the beak of a black Butimar bird

Sanitary masks, such as the one wrapped around the beak of the black Butimar bird in the above image, are the most common corona-related waste in the images. This image was recorded in Singapore

Dr. Bond says, “Almost all waste is a mask, and various raw materials have been used in the mask. In some pictures, we can see the strap of the mask wrapped around the feet of the birds. We may also see birds that are injured trying to swallow the fabric part of the mask or the hard plastic piece that secures the mask to the nose. We use the general term plastic, however plastic includes a wide range of polymer types and masks are a good example to demonstrate this.”

American red-breasted warbler entwined with a mask

Many birds, such as this American red-breasted plover found in 2020, become trapped in the elastic bands of face masks.

The researchers say they are looking to highlight a “structural problem” that causes this amount of waste to enter the environment.

Justin Amendolia, the senior researcher of the project and a member of Canada’s Dalhousie University, told the BBC that it was very sad to observe the extent of the impact of plastic waste on different species around the world: “For the first time in April 2020, the image of a bird that was hung on a tree from a mask strap was recorded in Canada. and after that the observations of such events increased at the international level. It clearly shows the damage that humans can do to the environment around the world in a very short period of time.”

A nest full of junk

The amount of garbage in the nest of this tern bird in the Netherlands is so much that the bird itself is hardly visible.

“Bamboo toothbrushes or canvas shopping bags in stores are not going to save the world, because today most of the large-scale plastic production is the result of commercial and industrial activity,” says Dr. Bond. “A combination of top-down policies and bottom-up pressure is enough for us to protest the status quo.”

A bird nesting in human waste

Justin Amendolia says: “I say this to people who are seeing such images for the first time; It’s okay to be sad. However, it is necessary to learn from the unnecessary and often invisible sufferings that parts of wildlife suffered during the spread of Corona. I hope people will use their frustration to increase demand for practical action [به‌منظور مقابله با وضعیت موجود] use.”

Fishing line wrapped around the beak of a bird in the water

Researchers say we should learn from the invisible suffering inflicted on wildlife.

Dr. Bond compares the collective action needed to solve the problem of plastic pollution to the Montreal Treaty. This treaty banned the use of substances that destroy the ozone layer. Many analysts say that the Montreal Treaty is one of the most successful agreements signed in the world. “We need something like this in relation to plastic pollution,” says Dr. Bond. “We are moving in the same direction, but at a very low speed.”

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