The Common Plastic Fish (Plasticus capensis)

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UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN ENVIRONMENTAL INTERVENTION

The Common Plastic Fish

Plasticus capensis

A Myth becomes Reality

Plasticous capensis: A myth uncovered


Accounts of the aquatic beast, Plasticous capensis otherwise known at The Common Cape Plastic Fish, dates back to the mid-1900s. This period was a few decades after the first synthetic plastic was invented by Leo Hendrik Baekeland, a Belgian-born American living in New York state. The modern legend was born when a sighting off the shores of China made international news on May 23, 1948. The news was quickly covered up by several multi-national plastic corporations, but the myth still remained prominent in four other countries: Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam - where the majority of plastic waste is produced and littered into the ocean.

Local fishermen had described witnessing “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface”. Some sightings seemed to suggest a dinosaur-like creature with large teeth, big claws and a long tail emerging out of ocean waters. This lead some to speculate that the Plasticous capensis is a solitary survivor of the long-extinct Kronosaurus. The aquatic Kronosaurus is thought to have died off with the rest of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although, visual evidence of this new species suggests that it may have evolved into a mutation, manifested from human activity and the rapid increase of plastic production and pollution around the world. Scientists have estimated that this manmade species has killed over 100,000 other marine creatures every year in the past 80 decades. Scientists suggest that it is a direct result of excessive plastic waste and careless behaviour with regard to ocean conservation. Humans have irritated the natural order of the environment and now, this behaviour has taken the turn for the worst.

This plasticised creature which lurks in the depths our oceans excretes a toxic chemical known as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) which seeps into oceanic food systems, ultimately poisoning the seafood which we ingest. The effect of this chemical has proven to be detrimental to both marine and human life. Without an international intervention, these creatures will continue to grow larger and become more threatening to all living organisms. There has recently been a groundbreaking discovery, when an offspring of the species washed up on the shores of Cape Town, South Africa on the 19th of May 2016, the day after an immense storm in the region. It is now being dissected and analysed by two of the local marine biologists. The myth is finally being uncovered, the Plasticous capensis is very much alive.