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Plastic Packing Bands Are Strangling Seals and Sea Lions

A common packing strap is responsible for more than half of Alaska's Stellar sea-lion entanglements.
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Anybody recall the environmental dangers of six-pack rings? Thanks to photos like this one, the plastic doohickeys became one of the biggest monsters of the marine-plastics debate, said to ensnare animals and painfully constrict the life out of them.

While the rings no doubt were responsible for many deadly entanglements, their deleterious effect on sea life was probably less than you might remember. For many years now, the manufacturers of these rings have been making them from biodegradable plastic, diminishing the chance they'll make trouble in the wild. And compared to the suffering caused by torn nets, old fishing lines, bait bags and other fishing-industry garbage, the rings have been a relatively minor offender. The Straight Dope looked into their environmental footprint in 1999 and determined that the "six-pack-ring threat has been greatly exaggerated":