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Today, on World Albatross Day, Greenpeace has released a heart wrenching video detailing the last days of a Toroa (Southern Royal Albatross) – which died after eating an entire plastic drink bottle.
“Plastic bottles are one of this giant sea bird’s mortal enemies,” says Greenpeace plastics campaigner, Phil Vine.
“When Toroa eat these things they die hideously, slowly starving as no other food can get through.
Greenpeace has recently launched a petition calling on the Government to ban plastic drink bottles which quickly gained more than 20,000 signatures.
“In these times of fear and anxiety it’s a relief to see so many people valuing nature over human convenience,” says Vine.
“Here at Greenpeace we’ve been deeply affected by the story of this poor albatross and are now more determined than ever to succeed”.
The petition follows a successful campaign to ban single-use plastic shopping bags – another menace in the sea.
“Nine out of ten New Zealand seabirds eat plastic as part of their regular diet, that’s a terrible indictment on our throwaway society,” he says.
The five minute Greenpeace film tells the backstory of the Toroa’s discovery on a Napier beach, the people who pulled it out of the waves, the vets who tried to save it, and experts who describe this as a grim wake-up call.
The juvenile Albatross lasted less than three days at Massey University’s Wildbase centre. The reason for Its death remained a mystery until the post mortem.
Veterinary pathologist Stuart Hunter who conducted the examination was surprised to discover an entire 500ml drink bottle inside the bird’s stomach.
“Plastic bottles remain a threat for hundreds of years. Had this albatross died in the ocean and decomposed, the bottle would likely have just floated free, only to be eaten by another bird. Manufacturers have to take responsibility for the products they make.”
New Zealand drink companies sell an estimated one billion plastic bottles every year. Recycling systems are failing, and many will find their way into landfill and into the sea.
Greenpeace is hoping the death of the young Toroa will galvanise more people to sign the petition and help convince the Government to make New Zealand the first country in the world to ban plastic drink bottles.
-Southern Royal Albatross (Toroa) are native to New Zealand, the largest flying bird in the world with a wingspan of up to three metres.
-This Toroa was 3-4 years old. They can live for up to 60 years.
-It was likely coming back from South America to Campbell Island where it would have found its mate for life.
-Eight million metric tonnes of plastic find their way into the sea every year.