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Things you can do to help protect marine life

June 5, 2019
By LEAH SANKEY ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

You can help protect our oceans and marine life by practicing sustainability. Within the last month, two dead dolphins have washed up on Fort Myers Beach. The first dolphin had a plastic bag and a piece of balloon in its stomach and the most recent had a 24-inch hose in its esophagus and fore stomach.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission posted a statement to their Facebook page regarding these incidents:

"This is the second stranded dolphin in one month's time from this region that had ingested plastic - reminding us again to look closely at our habits," the post reads. "Your actions can make a difference - secure and properly dispose of trash, take part in coastal cleanups and share information on how to reduce marine debris with others."

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The town of Fort Myers Beach has a current ban on plastic straws and is pushing for the use of reusable bags instead of plastic.

Joanne Shamp, a Fort Myers Beach town council member, said that the town will continue doing everything that it can to reduce plastic use on the island.

The town paid for and gave out about 3,000 reusable bags and is hoping sponsors will help them with funding so that more can be made.

The reusable bags read: "The town of Fort Myers Beach and the Marine Resources Task Force (MRTF) encourage you to enjoy a plastic free vacation. Skip the straw! Say no to Styrofoam! Refill water bottles! Reuse this bag! 330,000 plastic bags are used every second. 10% of all plastic bags end up in the sea. 12 minutes (average time a plastic bag is used) 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade. 700 marine species threatened by plastic. Second most common beach litter. 90% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs."

Ultimately, it is up to you to choose to live sustainability. Here are a few simple ways that you can be more sustainable:

* Help take care of our beaches. Whether you enjoy fishing, boating, or relaxing on the beach, always clean up after yourself. You can go a step further by cleaning up any litter that you see during your beach day or by participating in a beach cleanup. Encourage others to do the same.

* Skip the single use plastic. Plastics often end up in our oceans and contribute to habitat destruction and the deaths of tens of thousands of marine animals every year. You can mitigate your impact by using reusable water bottles, reusable bags and refusing plastic whenever possible (straws, bags, etc.)

* Support organizations that protect the ocean. Get involved locally. You can do hands-on volunteer work with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation or you can donate. There are many national organizations fighting to protect our oceans and marine life, you can support these organizations by donating.

* Reduce carbon emissions. According to WWF, in the last half-century, the ocean has absorbed 90% of the excess heat by burning fossil fuels. Decrease your carbon footprint by walking or biking whenever possible. If you have to drive to get where you're going, consider carpooling with a friend or coworker. Turn off lights and unplug electronics when you aren't using them and adjust the thermostat to minimize energy consumption.

* Learn more about the ocean and its inhabitants. Oceans make up more than 70% of our earth. All life on earth depends on the ocean in some way. The more you know about the ocean, the better prepared you'll be to inspire change. You can educate yourself through books, documentaries, websites and so much more.



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