You can only have been living under a rock for the last few years if you’re not aware of the plastic problem humans have created that is directly affecting the other creatures we share this planet with. However, few people get such stark reminders of the dangers of plastic pollution this close up.
The news is full of sad photos of whales/turtles/insert animal here showing signs of having swallowed plastic bags. We all saw that Blue Planet II episode that collectively broke the planet’s heart. And we know that everything from seabirds to deep-sea creatures ingest microplastic. Yet, somehow, we still don’t expect to slice up our shop-bought local catch and find a sickening amount of plastic inside.
And yet, that’s exactly what happened to private chef Claudia Escobar in Leith, Scotland this week.
Escobar had bought a lobster from a local fishmonger, knowing the catch had been caught in the Firth of Forth nearby, just north of Leith. She was preparing it to make a blue lobster dish, where the flesh is not cooked, when to her horror she sliced it open to discover what has been estimated as 90 percent of the lobster’s stomach filled with a bright orange rubber tube.
Ms Escobar, who makes a concerted effort to not use plastic where unnecessary in her cooking shared the grim photos of what she found to raise awareness.
“When I saw the rubber tubing I was shocked. I work a lot with lobsters and have never seen anything like it,” she said, reported the Edinburgh Evening News.
“We live really quickly, we chuck everything in the bin, but we should care,” she added. “We are floating in plastic, basically.”
Lobsters eat crabs, mussels, and fish, so it could be that the lobster mistook the bright orange tubing – which looks similar to that used in bunsen burners – for a mussel or other brightly colored prey, but how it managed to ingest that much tubing is unknown.
As Bryce Stewart, a lecturer in Marine Ecology at the University of York pointed out: "Normally you would need to use a microscope to see the plastic it had ingested. That’s not fantastic either – but to see something like this is shocking."
“It is a one-off at this stage but if it starts to become more common then it is very worrying," he added.