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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Wildlife COVID Threat Is Greater Than Only The Disease: Our Masks Are Adding To Their Misery

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The problem with pollution has always been there. But due to the unprecedented lockdown, studies were showing that it had gone down momentarily. But it has now returned, and is worse than ever! Moreover, the Wildlife COVID threat is not just about the pandemic. As face shields, gloves, and masks became the normal attire, we forgot that they were usually made of non-biodegradable plastics.

As a result, the immense number of added plastic waste has increased the environmental pressure. All the undisposed medical equipment is increasing plastic pollution. Our lives may have been protected from the pandemic because of the masks. But now, wildlife is facing a potentially deadlier threat because of that protection. These images show how the Wildlife COVID threat looms large.

Wildlife COVID Threat From Surgical Masks That Are Single-Use

The most recommended and used piece of medical equipment during the pandemic has resulted in an immense amount of plastic waste. These surgical masks are now found scattered worldwide around beaches, waterways, and pavements. It was already a problem during the pandemic, as it was recommended to keep changing them after a week at least. But, at least, at that time people took precautions while disposing of them properly.

wildlife covid threat
Image Credits: AFP

Now that the pandemic is losing its steam, the masks are just another litter on the road.

Jellyfish Outnumbered By Gloves & Masks

Seeing the excessive use of plastic-based medical equipment, conservationists had already issued warnings. They were concerned that the COVID pandemic may result in an immense surge in the pollution of the oceans. Their worries were not wrong at all.

wildlife covid threat
Image Credits: AFP

In Europe’s Mediterranean Sea, soon the number of jellyfish is going to be lesser than the number of discarded masks and gloves. An ecologist operation in France, named Operation Mer Propre, raised the alarm. This equipment can take up to four and a half centuries to decompose.

The Ecosystems Face The Largest Wildlife COVID Threat

Ashley Fruno, who belongs to PETA, the international group fighting for animal rights, explained that surgical masks for faces are not going to stop being used shortly. However, we must take care of how we dispose of them. If we dispose of them carelessly, they will be very harmful to the animals and the environment of Earth. The Wildlife COVID threat must be kept in mind whenever we use them.

wildlife covid threat
Image credits: AFP

Face Masks Being Chewed By Macaques

Another powerful image showing the Wildlife COVID threat. In the hilly region just outside Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, live the macaques. But, tourists and conservationists have seen that these primates are finding surgical masks that have been tossed aside after being used. Be it their curiosity, or their hunger, the macaques have been seen chewing and tearing off the straps of the masks. The troubling part is they might just swallow that plastic strap, which will lead to them suffering.

The Legs Of A Young Seagull Tangled In A Face Mask

In Britain, this incident was at the top of every headline. In Essex’s Chelmsford City, a car showroom staff had spotted a young seagull having difficulty walking. They had seen the bird come there for a week. But every time they tried to catch it, it would escape.

wildlife covid threat
Image credits: AFP

After catching it, the Wildlife COVID threat was clear once again. Its legs were all tied up with the straps of a face mask. It was then taken to the city’s Wildlife Hospital where it was treated. The legs of the bird had become swollen and sore by the time it was freed. It was not even able to move.

Wildlife COVID Threat Affecting Marine Life

wildlife covid threat
Image credits: Reuters

There have been several signs already showing how the Wildlife COVID threat is affecting marine life.

Read: ‘Sea Of Plastic’ Stretches For Miles In The Caribbean, Killing Wildlife

Their Stomachs Have Plastic In Them

wildlife covid threat
Image Credits: Argonauta Institute

In Brazil, conservationists discovered a facemask that was inside a penguin’s stomach. The penguin’s dead body had washed ashore on a nearby beach. On a coast near Miami, a pufferfish was discovered that had died while being trapped inside a mask. The images are quite disturbing. Nevertheless, the conservationists were alarmed at the Wildlife COVID threat. It also shows how far these medical gear has been dispersed as pollution.

A Dead Crab

wildlife covid threat
Image credits: AFP/YT

The French organization, Operation Mer Propre, had made another alarming discovery. They had found a lifeless crab caught in a surgical mask. The image was taken around September 2020, in a lagoon of saltwater close to the Mediterranean Sea.

Wildlife COVID Threat Particularly Problematic

wildlife covid threat
Image Credits: AFP

George Leonard, the chief scientist at Ocean Conservancy, an NGO based in the US, said that sea creatures are particularly threatened by the gloves and masks floating around.

Disposed PPE Kit Pulled Out By A Dog

Wildlife COVID threat
Image Credits: BCCL

In India’s Coimbatore, a dog is pictured carrying a discarded PPE Kit in its mouth. The developing countries also face the problem of proper COVID waste disposal adding to the Wildlife COVID threat.

Fish Caught In Face Mask

wildlife covid threat
Image Credits: Facebook/Clean This Beach Up

The environmental group in Florida’s Miami Beach had found a lifeless fish entangled within a surgical face mask. The image once more highlights the importance of the Wildlife COVID threat and properly disposing of the medical gear.

Peregrine Falcon And The Used Mask

wildlife covid threat
Image Credits: Facebook/@SteveShipley23

This photo was taken by Steve Shipley on the coast off of North Yorkshire in the UK. The Peregrine Falcon can be seen flying off with the face mask. It may be thinking of it as something edible, which would be extremely dangerous for the bird.

Read: Plastic Bags Found Inside The Stomach Of Whale Becomes A Cause Of Concern For Norwegian Scientists

Increased Fines May Be A Solution

wildlife COVID threat
Image Credits: AFP

OceansAsia has asked governments to increase how much people are fined for littering. Using washable masks is also encouraged. Hopefully, the pandemic does not last much longer, and the Wildlife COVID threat can be kept to a minimum.




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