Plastic Oceans

 

A boy collects debris on a beach near Durres on Albania’s Adriatic Coast on April 9, 2010.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ARBEN CELI, REUTERS

With Millions of Tons of Plastic in Oceans, More Scientists Studying Impact.

“We estimate we’re going to have millions of tons of plastic going into the ocean with, so far, unknown consequences,” says Jenna Jambeck,an environmental engineer [.]

Most of this plastic is in tiny pieces, smaller than a grain of rice, and floating in the water column.  They are created when larger plastic items such as bags or plastic pellets (used to make all kinds of products) are broken down by the sun and salt water.  These are ingested by numerous animals and invertebrates as they feed on the phytoplankton floating in the water.  Since plastics mimic endocrines in the bloodstream, they affect the reproductive systems of fish and wildlife.

Jambeck and her team’s research, to be published later this year, will provide new estimates of how much garbage is produced globally every year, how much garbage comes from developing countries lacking garbage collection systems, and how much litter is produced by developed countries. All trash has the potential to reach the oceans.

It is much easier to prevent trash from reaching the ocean than it is to clean up the Ocean:

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as it is known, is often said to be twice the size of Texas. It actually extends, at times, from Japan to San Francisco, and varies in shape and density. According to NOAA, cleaning up less than one percent of the North Pacific would take 68 ships working 10 hours a day for a year.

Many people are working on solutions to garbage disposal, especially in poor countries.  What are you doing to help keep the oceans clean?

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