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Shark Week and Plastic Don’t Mix

Discovery Channel’s iconic Shark Week is here! The longest running cable event in history is devoted to conservation efforts and correcting misconceptions about sharks.

Sharks are an integral player in oceanic eco-systems, whose livelihood is threatened by accumulating plastic in the seas.

Plastic bags swallowed by large bodies of water sink and are taken away by the natural oceanic currents. Many shark species are highly migratory, traveling vast distances to feed and mate. In the summer, shark species journey to the north polar seas to feed on blooming plankton. As the waters become colder, the sharks swim south to warmer waters. Migratory mating patterns are essential to the survival of the hammerhead shark, which ventures to the tropical waters around the Galapagos Islands during the winter season to propagate.

Sharks have an incredibly unique internal navigation system that allows them to travel these massive distance. Sharks are supremely sensitive to pressure and water temperature. Predominantly, sharks navigate using electromagnetic reception to guide them. At the front of a shark’s head is a complex and sensitive system of bio-electrical sensors that responds to the ocean’s currents and the earth’s electromagnetic field, guiding them accordingly.

Like sharks, plastic travels with ocean currents. The plastic has been shown to accumulate along common shark migratory routes. Plastic is becoming one of the most ferocious predators for sharks, and other aquatic species as well.

Photo Credit: Big Blue Orb

Resembling the translucent body of a jellyfish, sharks mistake floating plastic bags for food. Their digestive systems are incapable of processing the plastic and die painfully from starvation. Other plastic items like lids, straws and strings clog the seas and can entangle the ocean’s inhabitants.

Shark Week is a stellar time to engage in mindful practices like saying no to a straw or asking for the to-go coffee in a paper cup instead of a plastic cup. Consider using a 100% biodegradable laundry detergent like Dropps, which comes in pre-measured degradable pacs and in a degradable cardboard container, saving the oceans and sharks from another floating plastic jug!