elephant seal slowly choking to deathThe fishermen, or whomever discarded what looks like fishing gear, into the marine environment, which is now permanently strangling this helpless elephant seal. Thanks to Denise Kocek for sharing this photo with us.

This elephant seal is a resident of a colony in Morro Bay, California near San Luis Obispo. Denise spoke with park service and marine mammal rescue service officials who are not able to help seals when the colony is well-populated, particularly with alpha males and new mothers around that will fiercely guard their young.

Despite  her horrific injury this seal recently gave birth to two seal pups, one of which survived. Denise is monitoring their progress and will keep us updated.

This is what happens when the natural habitat of marine life is cluttered with trash left behind by humans. It’s inexcusable and cruel. I’m glad Denise shared it with me so that I can share it with you. I know many of you are aware that this happens all the time, but if I can reach just a few people who don’t realize how damaging careless waste can be — then it will be worth the shock value of this photo, which is disturbing to see.

What bothers me most is that this is so easy to prevent. There is no need to throw anything overboard that doesn’t belong in the marine environment. Waste can just as easily be discarded properly on shore and chronic suffering such as this can be avoided.

The Algalita Marine Research Foundation is doing excellent work to confront this problem. I hope that you’ll take a few minutes to learn more about the enormous impact plastics and other trash have on marine life and in the marine environment.