We applaud the City of Boston for the plastic bag ban, which went into effect on Friday, December 14.

This is an important step forward toward reducing plastic pollution in the ocean.

“The New England Aquarium applauds the City of Boston for its single-use plastic bag ban as a strong first step at reducing plastic pollution in our ocean. Plastics are quite literally choking our seas and the magnificent creatures that live there,” stated New England Aquarium President and CEO Vikki Spruill. “For example, plastic grocery bags and drinking straws are only in our hands for a moment. But for the animals who live in rivers, lakes, harbors, and the ocean, our plastic pollution piles up and can last forever.”

Plastic grocery bags and drinking straws are only in our hands for a moment. But for the animals who live in rivers, lakes, harbors, and the ocean, our plastic pollution piles up and can last forever.
- Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of the New England Aquarium

Just last month, Aquarium veterinarians and biologists worked around the clock trying to save a 420-pound leatherback sea turtle that had stranded on Cape Cod. Despite those efforts, the giant black sea turtle mysteriously died. An autopsy discovered a large piece of plastic lodged in its digestive tract that played a major role in contributing to the death of this endangered animal. 

Aquarium staff cares for a leatherback sea turtle.
Aquarium rescuers work to save a leatherback sea turtle.

Leatherbacks feed exclusively on sea jellies (jellyfish), and plastic bags floating in the water undulate nearly the same way. Plastic bags are often ingested whole by many other sea creatures, including whales, dolphins, sharks, and other large fish. In a recent blog, Aquarium sea turtle ecologist Dr. Kara Dodge shared her experience and showed remarkable, underwater video of leatherbacks feeding on sea jellies.

Eventually, plastic bags break down and become more dangerous as micro-plastics that are consumed by hundreds of marine species throughout the food chain – from plankton to seabirds and most fish species, including those most commonly eaten by people. We are just beginning to understand what might be the long-term health effects on all of us.

We can kick the single-use plastics habit!

The New England Aquarium has joined dozens of other aquariums around the country that encouraged the public to pass on the use of unnecessary straws. So much of our plastics consumption is habitual and not essential. Even a generation ago, we used just a fraction of the plastics that we dispose of today. Here is how the public can make small changes to make a big difference. Pledge to skip the straw you don’t need! Learn more and join the movement.

Thanks to the City of Boston and many other communities for having the courage to take the first step. Making thoughtful choices and working together, we can reduce plastic pollution.
first step logo and penguins diving