Creature Feature: Plastic Creatures

by Casey Cruikshank

For this month’s Creature Feature we chose to highlight a particularly insidious type of invasive species: Plastic Creatures. These creatures are found on beaches, near rivers, on city streets and even in forests. Readers hoping to catch a glimpse of creatures like these only need to keep their eyes on the ground while out on their next nature walk. Your vigilance can help keep these toxic creatures out of the bellies of those higher up the food chain. Follow us on social media to learn more about creatures like these that have appeared in our area. 

 

Plastic Fish

The Plastic Fish, once a rare species in our ocean, is becoming increasingly more common and quite invasive. These fish are often made up of polyethylene and due to their hard external features they have a uniquely infinite lifespan.

Unlike most species, rather than growing larger over time, Plastic Fish break down into smaller and smaller pieces until they can no longer be identified and a microscope must be used to see them. This stage of their life is called microplastics.

They are completely self-sustained and do not require any food to survive, however they are quite commonly preyed upon by other species and are toxic when consumed.

Help us slow the spread of this invasive species by removing them from your shopping list and from the shoreline. Spread the word about the tale of the plastic fish to friends and family.

 

BK Toy

This creature was found on Agate beach and none of our volunteers have seen anything like it before. After consulting with the experts and doing some internet sleuthing, it appears that this creature originates from the Burger King Franchise.

Dating back to 1990, this creature is approximately 30 years old and just starting to show its age. It has been discovered that in an attempt to emulate its competitor, Burger King began handing out these creatures to children to accompany their fast food meal.

Much to the creatures’ dismay, they were often only enjoyed for minutes at a time then tossed away as a single-use object, sometimes even winding up in the ocean as we see here. If you’re looking to find a vintage Burger King creature of your own, head on out to the beach and keep your eyes peeled. You never know what you might find.

Unidentified Species

This creature is an unidentified species that recently swam/waddled/washed(?) ashore on Samoa Beach. It closely resembles a hippo, but we’re pretty sure they’re not in the same Family or Genus. It’s features seem to be frozen in a smile. We’re not sure if that’s how it really feels, or if it’s some predatory defense mechanism.

 Though found on the beach we believe this to originally be a land dwelling creature. Based on the size of the Gooseneck Barnacles growing on the creature’s face, we estimate that it has been floating at sea for around 6 months to a year.

If anyone has any information on the identification of this creature, please let us know at editor@yournec.org.

 

Teddy Bear

This species, though showing its age, appears to be in the Stuffed Bear Family. These creatures are usually kept in comfortable indoor habitats and enjoy a symbiotic relationship with Homo sapiens. Thus they are clearly not equipped for the harsh conditions the ocean and beach have to offer. (Fish are not ideal snuggle buddies).

Stuffed Bears are generally made up of synthetic fibers that, when exposed to the elements, break down into microfibers. Microfibers are often confused for food by smaller species. Those smaller species are eaten by larger species and soon the microfibers have traveled all the way up the food chain.

If you see a Stuffed Bear or other creatures in this Family on the beach please take the time to humanely relocate it to a more proper habitat (i.e. the landfill).