If you’re unclear on what a whale burp is, you’re not the only one. Often misconstrued to be connected in some way to whales (and I wonder why that is… ), whale burps are actually purely environmental–no whales necessary. They don’t look too unlike rubberband balls. Except they’re made up of pine needles, bird shells, twigs, and other natural debris… as well as a disconcerting unnatural item: strands of plastic.
It’s believed that these bad news balls form when strands of plastic roll around with natural debris.
And they’ve formed and come to shore in Duluth, Minnesota.
A Lake Superior beach sweep in 2010 yielded thousands of pieces of plastic items. Volunteers collected the plethora of garbage, but there’s clearly more where all of that came from. This particular plastic appears to be the kind often used in contruction, in silt fences, for example.
I spent a week this past summer on Lake Superior. After watching the sunset on those ostensibly sparkling clean shores so many nights in a row, it breaks my heart to know that the lake’s pollution is now rolling up on the shores.
[photo by Ben Britz]