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Next summer

Delfines y desechos plásticos

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Many people wonder: What can I do for the environment? Can I help save a dolphin? The answers to these questions are not tied to grand actions but to the small ones, which are often the most important.

When summer arrives, humans are drawn to the sea. Crowds gather on the beaches in search of contact with the ocean waves that bring us pleasure and relaxation. However, human activity leaves a devastating impact on sandy beaches. Millions of nylon bags and all kinds of plastics are abandoned on the coast, and the wind or tides carry them into the sea.

A nylon bag can float for several decades without degrading. Sea turtles mistake them for jellyfish and eat them, choking in the process. Thousands of dolphins also fall victim to this confusion and drown due to being entangled in sandwich wrappers. They cannot recognize human waste; they simply get confused because, after all, “what floats in the sea is food.”

The plastic cap of a bottle, tougher than a bag, can remain unchanged while sailing the seas for over a century. Dr. James Ludwig, who was studying albatrosses on Midway Island in the Pacific, far from populated areas, made a horrifying discovery. When he started collecting the stomach contents of only eight dead albatross chicks, he found: 42 plastic bottle caps, 18 disposable lighters, a plastic toy motorcycle, and handfuls of floating debris, mostly small plastic fragments. These chicks had been fed by their parents who couldn’t recognize the waste when choosing their food.

Next summer, when you visit your favorite beach, you may come across litter that someone else has discarded in the sand. It’s not your trash, but it is your beach, and you must do something for it. Many parents play the game of “Let’s see who can collect the most plastics” with their children, providing an unforgettable lesson in ecology. Others quietly pick up abandoned plastic and take it home, away from the sea. You’ll see them pass by with smiles on their faces, knowing they have saved a dolphin.

“One cannot defend what one does not love, and one cannot love what one does not know.”