Questions for “Camels have been dying after mistaking plastic for food”

dromedary camels eating trash

These dromedary camels are foraging on desert trash, including plastic, outside Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates. A new study suggests that plastic kills one in every 100 camels in the United Arab Emirates.

Ulrich Wernery

To accompany “Camels have been dying after mistaking plastic for food


Before Reading:

1. What are three characteristics of camels?

2. Why might a camel eat a plastic bag?

During Reading:

1.  Where did Marcus Eriksen meet up with Ulrich Wernery and what did Wernery offer to show him?

2.  How big was the mass inside the ribcage of the first camel carcass Eriksen saw? What was it made of?

3.  According to the story, what types of marine animals have been found to have picked up plastic pollution?

4.  How many dead camels has Wernery’s team examined? How many of them had eaten plastic?

5.  What is a bezoar? Why do Eriksen and Wernery call the camel version polybezoars?

6.  How many pounds did the polybezoars weigh that Eriksen and Wernery examined for their new study? 

7.  What share of UAE camels might die due to polybezoars?

After Reading:

1.  Imagine you’ve been hired as a consultant by the United Arab Emirates government. Put together an action plan for officials there to protect the camels from polybezoars. Identify who would do what and how you would measure your success.

2.  Plastics have become a global problem. Read four stories on plastic pollution from Science News for Students and identify steps you and your classmates can take to reduce the share of plastics that get into the environment. Put together a slogan to share with your family and/or community.

3.  Move throughout your home and identify all of the different plastic products you find. (Yes, wrappings count.) How many did you find? How many of these are normally recycled? Which ones never are? Pick five that never are and identify how you would like to see them disposed of so that they would not contribute to the environmental problem of plastics pollution.