Sharks and rays ‘starved and suffocated’ by plastic debris

Sharks and rays 'starved and suffocated' by plastic debris

ENGLAND

Scientists become the first to use Twitter to gather data about the danger posed by discarded plastic and fishing nets.

More than a thousand sharks and rays have become entangled in discarded fishing gear and plastic debris, potentially leading to starvation and suffocation, scientists have warned.

Academics at the University of Exeter feared the issue was going “under the radar” compared to other threats such as over-fishing, and set out to assess the scale of the problem.Sponsored link

Their study has become the first to use Twitter to gather such data, in addition to existing research.

The only reports they got of whale sharks becoming entangled came from social media, compared to none in published studies.

That disparity “emphasises that entanglement is more than likely impacting a significantly greater number of species on a vastly larger scale than this review has presented”, they said.

They are proposing that a “citizen science platform” be set up to help crowdsource reports.

After combining their sources, the researchers found 1,116 reports of the creatures getting caught up.

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