Source: Ocean Health Index
Written By Dr. Richard Thompson, School of Marine Science and Engineering, Plymouth University
Weaned Monk Seal pup entangled in a line with plastic, found in Midway Atoll, Spring 2013. Courtesy of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Fatal entanglement in and ingestion of marine debris by marine animals has increased by 40% in the last decade, according to a recent Convention on Biological Diversity report that I co-authored with Sarah Gall and Duncan Bury. Over half of the 280 papers we reviewed documented entanglement and ingestion, impacting 46,000 individuals and 663 species.
Source: Science Direct
Vinay Udyawer, Mark A. Read, Mark Hamann, Colin A. Simpfendorfer, Michelle R. Heupel, First record of sea snake (Hydrophis elegans, Hydrophiinae) entrapped in marine debris, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 26 June 2013, ISSN 0025-326X
Hydrophis elegans has one lung only, but breathes also through the skin © Giuseppe Mazza
Entanglement in derelict fishing gear and other marine debris is a major threat to the survival of large marine wildlife like cetaceans, seabirds and sea turtles. However, no previous reports of entanglement or entrapment have been recorded in sea snakes (Hydrophiinae). We report here on a sea snake (Hydrophis elegans) found with a ceramic washer encircling its body captured from the north-east coast of Queensland, Australia. The ring had constricted the body and over time caused extensive damage to the underlying tissues. A post-mortem examination showed the snake was severely emaciated as the ring restricted the passage of food to the stomach and intestine. This is the first record of mortality due to marine debris entrapment in sea snakes.