IS HOPE FOR MARINE LIFE LOST AT SEA?
The issue of marine life becoming entangled in increasingly brutal fishing nets is not receiving the amount of public attention that it deserves. We first addressed it, in part, in our blog on Liz Bonnin’s ‘Drowning in Plastic’ documentary that aired on the BBC late last year (read it here) and it has been brought to our attention once again after hearing that dolphins are washing up deceased and mutilated on French coastlines in unprecedented numbers. This paints an alarming picture, as it is certain that not every dead, damaged dolphin will ever make it to shore - so while 1,100 dolphins have made landfall since the start of 2019 (and it’s only April), how many more have simply sank to a watery grave?
As is commonly the case, depressingly, this could point towards extinction for the species. Netting is being made finer and harsher the more that technology develops allowing it so, and it seems no consideration is being made for the larger marine life that the trawlermen do not intend to catch. As this is their entire livelihood, one can imagine why so few in the industry are willing to speak up on the issue, so as per usual it has fallen to environmental activists to start raising awareness of the increasing issue. Estimates point to almost 10,000 deaths a year for the European dolphin alone. How are whales, several times larger again, supposed to cope?
One of our favourite environmental advocates, Sir David Attenborough, has released his latest in a very long line of nature documentaries recently - Our Planet, this time available to binge on Netflix. A scene from the show has been attracting a great deal of public attention, displaying several harrowing instances of walruses inadvertently committing suicide as a result of the conditions that they have found themselves in.
The walruses hunt in the sea, and used to rely on the practical nearby ice sheets to relax and reside when they weren’t hunting. However, the ice sheets, as we all know, are melting at a rapid pace, forcing the walruses onto rocky terrain they must swim miles to and from every day to feed. However, these giant creatures do not have the depth perception necessary to be inhabiting such areas, and so have developed a frightening habit of wandering off the edges of cliffs. Their immense weight does little to help them when they end up stuck in a sticky situation - they weigh a tonne, approximately equal to a reasonably sized car.
The documentary shows them flopping off of rock faces like the dead weights they are, making a clattering impact as they meet their doom on the rocks below. The public response has been one of horror and shock, with people questioning how appropriate the images are to be shown publicly and igniting the eternal battle of whether these cameramen should get involved and help a poor animal when they see one or whether their duty is to simply observe nature taking its course just as it would were they not there.
This is the latest example of the ‘Attenborough effect’ taking place among the public - whereby it seems as if, at long last, people are finally starting to sit up and take notice of just how colossally bad we have made things for ourselves. News outlets are reporting that there has been a 53% drop in single-use plastics over the last 12 months, and they are attributing it to the pressure that Attenborough has been applying via his immensely popular, gorgeously produced documentaries. Thank goodness that people are finally starting to get the message and make sustainability the norm - and so are brands too. The war is not yet won by any means at all, but hopefully these emerging statistics are a sign that humanity has a passion to save our world after all.
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