Plastic microparticles threaten unique Galapagos fauna

Galapagos fauna

Tahjeeb Hossain Chowdhury: The Scenic Oceanside beaches and marinas are now heaped in washed up or thrown out plastic from commuters on the beach. The Galapagos seems like an industrial wasteland filled with plastic, metal, and a host of trash strewn across the shores. This is indicative of how callous the overall process of waste management in the area has been. Yet, underneath that, there is a threat to the inhabitants of the area be it human and fauna. The microparticles from the waste, especially ones from the plastic pose significant damages.

The microparticles from plastic washing up on the shores have come from nearby countries. The archipelago in the pacific is 600 miles west of Ecuador. The waste from nearby countries or in some degree continents washes up on the shores. The microparticle discharge from these plastic wastes can find their way into the stomachs of unsuspecting fauna like the Iguana, tortoise, birds. These can become fatal and cause deaths of the natural inhabitants. Researchers from the Galapagos National Park have said that the particles might end up in the food of the humans as well. With a population of 25000, that risk might be dire than the words spell them out to be.

Galapagos is also a heritage site according to Unesco and more efforts from the authorities of surrounding South American countries are expected as the majority of the waste pertains to these countries. Park Rangers and volunteers with their gloves and sacks are the only defense against the rampant waste that faces the Galapagos islands. Most of the plastic washing up has been Chinese Products ranging from plastic shampoo bottles to food containers to even unknown objects that look like adult toys. 

The locals and the volunteers have made an appeal to the surrounding authorities. In recent years of 2018 and 2019, the waste has accumulated to over 6.5 tons with no signs of the number dropping anytime soon. Authorities and International bodies have to come together and address the situation. Rare species of fauna including the marine Iguana depend on the food in algae, insects, and small crabs. The particles mixed in the ocean endanger their existence at a fatal level. Soon, all species including humans in the Galapagos may be at danger if no steps are taken.

(The writer is a marketing graduate, content writer, and data science enthusiast from Dhaka, reach him at [email protected])

Photo Courtesy: Bangkok Post

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