Ever used a plastic drinking straw? When you remove plastic netting around grocery items or fruit, do you simply toss it in the trash without another thought?
Many of us have done something similar. But scientists now warn that discarded plastic materials like these have begun overwhelming our planetary waterways.
According to Earth Day, one garbage truck full of plastic is emptied into the sea every single minute. At this rate, a study cited by The Independent calculates that the volume of plastic in our global oceans will increase tenfold by the year 2020.
Further, discarded or abandoned fishing nets, many of them plastic, also pose a tremendous risk to the ocean and the creatures in it. According to World Animal Protection, 640,000 tons of fishing gear is left in the oceans every year, which often ends up harming or killing aquatic life.
These are sobering numbers, especially when considering just how many animals live in those waters. But seeing statistics on a page doesn’t always hit home.
Perhaps that’s why the plight of an adorable porcupine fish and its loyal friend has recently made its way across social media.
Encyclopedia Britannica explains that these sweet-looking, spiny creatures inhabit shallow waters all over the world. Related to puffer fish, they’re noted for the innocent appearance of their large, friendly eyes.
An underwater snorkeler recorded video footage when one such fish found herself in a troubling predicament. She was swimming along with her aquatic companion, when she found herself entangled in some discarded fishing net.
Psychology Today notes that fish absolutely have feelings, too. A recent Australian study found that fish display keen intelligence, experience distress, and can even recognize one another.
So perhaps it’s unsurprising that the companion of this porcupine fish refused to leave her side. The fishy friend stayed extremely close by, almost making bodily contact much of the time.
It’s possible this other fish was her mate. It also could have been a caring comrade.
In any event, the snorkelers who had discovered the trapped fish wanted to help. So they used a broken bottle shard to gradually, carefully cut away the netting.
The whole time this was happening, that floating fish companion remained mere inches away. The second fish seemed so intently focused that it displayed little thought for its own safety.
It took the snorkelers some time to break through all that tangled net, as the porcupine fish was really stuck.
But video footage posted by The Dodo and WildAware shows that the second fish continued waiting patiently. And finally, the twisted net gave way.
The moment it did, both fishy pals paddled off into the ocean.
And as their delicate fins fluttered through the water, they continued swimming side-by-side.
The Coral Reef Alliance reports that most fish we human beings consume have actually ingested plastic microfibers at one time or another. So these devoted little porcupine fish offer a great reminder to seek out plastic alternatives any time we can, and to properly dispose of fishing gear and other objects to keep them out of our oceans.
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