Florida is an absolutely beautiful place. Gorgeous beaches, wildlife, and water. But beneath all the beauty there is a dirty problem that is greatly effecting animals and nature on every beach.
During my vacation over spring break to Cape Coral, Florida, I was saddened to find a bird wrapped in a discarded piece of rope. The bird was a cormorant, an awesome duck-like bird that swims underwater to get its food. When a friend of mine had removed the rope from around the poor bird’s body, we discovered that it’s foot had been broken. Most likely from struggling to get detangled from the rope.
In the picture below, you can see the rope that tangled the bird and the poor thing with its wing stretched over the log.
Unfortunately, this is not a unique case. Animals native to coastal habitats, have fallen victim to pollution that injures the animals.
There are many types of animal injuries due to trash. Plastic bags being ingested or around their heads leading to suffocation is something that can be seen often. Birds and fish alike may become attracted to the bag and rather eat it, which clogs their intestines or get it affixed to their face or wrapped up in a body part that denies them the ability to hunt or gather food.
The plastic rings that pop cans come in get wrapped around their necks or bodies. All over the internet you can find pictures of turtles' shells being demented because of the rings. Another good example is Lovelace from "Happy Feet", he had a plastic ring tied around his neck and had no means of getting it off. As well as just plastic in general, basic litter that is tossed aside can attract the attention of birds such as pelicans, and when it is eaten they can't digest it so it just slowly kills them.
Another big offender is fishing line. This is some deadly stuff. Fishing line is designed so it won't break and is sturdy enough to pull a fish out of the ocean. But if it does break and gets discarded into the ocean or onto a beach it can do some damage. If an animal eats a lot of it, it can completely block off their digestive tract. Or if an animal gets tangled in the line it can very easily slice them open, it can also get wrapped around trees and prevent its growth.
I went down to the gorge the other day for my birthday and was saddened to see a very large amount of fishing line wrapped in a tree. Just trying to get it detangled, I could see how it could hurt someone without thumbs.
But this doesn't have to end a sad story. If when ever you see garbage, in Florida or not, pick it up and try to refrain from littering. This world belongs to all of us, lets try to keep it clean.