plastic tagged posts

High microplastic concentration found on ocean floor

Microplastics in the ocean with a Manta Ray

Scientists have identified the highest levels of microplastics ever recorded on the seafloor. The contamination was found in sediments pulled from the bottom of the Mediterranean, near Italy. The analysis, led by the University of Manchester, found up to 1.9 million plastic pieces per square metre.

These items likely included fibres from clothing and other synthetic textiles, and tiny fragments from larger objects that had broken down over time.

The researchers’ investigations lead them to believe that microplastics (smaller than 1mm) are being concentrated in specific locations on the ocean floor by powerful bottom currents.

“These currents build what are called drift deposits; think of underwater sand dunes,” explained Dr Ian Kane, who fronted the international team.

“They can be tens ...

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Satellite data used to detect marine plastic

Sentinel -2 Satellite collecting data on micro plastics in the ocean

A new method of detecting patches of floating macroplastics – larger than 5 millimetres – in marine environments is presented in Scientific Reports this week. The approach, which uses data from the European Space Agency Sentinel-2 satellites, is able to distinguish plastics from other materials with 86% accuracy.

Lauren Biermann and colleagues identified patches of floating debris from Sentinel-2 data based on their spectral signatures – the wavelengths of visible and infrared light they absorbed and reflected. The authors then trained a machine-learning algorithm to classify the individual materials that made up these patches according to the specific spectral signatures of different plastic and natural materials...

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Ocean plastics smell like food to turtles

The amount of plastic pollution in the oceans is rapidly increasing. This is problematic, as at least 700 species of marine animals – including sharks, whales, seabirds and turtles – can become entangled in the stuff or mistake it for a tasty snack.

While we know that some species seem to eat plastic because it looks like jellyfish or some other food source, less research has been carried out into what plastic smells like to marine animals.

But now, a study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found that the coating of algae and microbes that naturally builds up on ocean plastics causes the rubbish to give off the aroma of food.

The researchers took 15 captive-reared loggerhead turtles, each around five months old, and placed them in a laboratory aquarium...

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Attenborough: World ‘changing habits’ on plastic

The world is beginning to tackle the threat of plastic waste, according to the renowned broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.

“I think we’re all shifting our behaviour, I really do,” Sir David said in an interview with the BBC.

Describing plastic pollution as “vile” and “horrid”, he said there was growing awareness of the damage it can do.

“I think we are changing our habits, and the world is waking up to what we’ve done to the planet,” he said.

Sir David was speaking as he and the BBC’s Natural History Unit (NHU) were announced as the winners of the prestigious Chatham House Prize for their Blue Planet II series of documentaries.

Chatham House, a foreign affairs think-tank based in London, awards the prize to people or organisations making a significant contribution to improving internation...

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Every human should be alarmed by the plastic crisis in our oceans

A garbage-strewn beach in Mumbai, India

“Without Change,” warns a bipartisan group of senators, “there will be more plastic by weight than fish in the oceans by 2050.” Some of the signs of this growing crisis are visible: sea turtles caught in discarded fishing nets; piles of trash floating in the ocean; birds and fish stranded in plastic six-pack rings.

But much of the trash in the ocean is not so obvious. National Geographic reports that the iconic Great Pacific Garbage Patch — also known as the Pacific trash vortex — is really more of a soup of small plastic particles the sun has broken down, punctuated by larger items such as fishing nets and shoes. Much of the trash is dumped into the sea from ships. But most comes from land: bottles, cups, bags...

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Discarded Fishing Gear is a Major Source of Ocean Pollution

plastic fishing gear is the scourge of our oceans

Discarded nets, lines and other fishing gear make up a significant portion of plastics polluting the world’s oceans, according to a new report from Greenpeace. The report on so-called “ghost gear” says such debris makes up about 10% of all plastic pollution in oceans, and in some areas accounts for the majority of large plastic waste at sea.

The fishing industry has turned to using more gear made of plastic in recent decades because it is lighter and cheaper, according to the report.

“The impact of abandoned or lost fishing gear has increased dramatically as the industry has switched from natural fibers, ceramic pots and wood buoys to plastic,” John Hocevar, Oceans Campaign Director for Greenpeace USA, said in an article on the organization’s website...

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Heineken ditches plastic rings and shrink wrap in eco makeover

Heineken said the change would lead to 517 tonnes of plastic being removed from the packaging of its brands by the end of 2021

Heineken is ditching single-use plastic rings and shrink wrap from millions of multipack cans and replacing them with eco-friendly cardboard. The Dutch company has invested £22m in new technology and production facilities at its UK sites that will enable it to start rolling out the changes across its popular brands , which include Heineken and Foster’s, from April 2020.

The can “toppers” are made from recyclable cardboard and are strong enough to carry the weight of a multipack. Their adoption by Heineken in the UK will lead to 517 tonnes of plastic being removed from the packaging of its brands by the end of 2021.

The changes will be rolled out first across Heineken, Foster’s and Kronenbourg 1664, then all its other brands in multipack cans, such as Strongbow, Bulmer’s, Red Stripe...

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Sperm whale washed up on beach had plastic sheeting in stomach

Baby Sperm Whale swimming in open water

A baby sperm whale found washed-up on a beach in Wales had plastic sheeting and other marine rubbish in its stomach, experts have said. The 22-foot long male calf washed up near Abersoch, Gwynedd, on Tuesday and is the first sperm whale to wash up on the Welsh coast in over 100 years. A post-mortem examination found that the animal was malnourished and below a healthy weight.

Experts from the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) who conducted the post-mortem were perplexed as to how it had found its way to such shallow waters given the species generally lives in deeper southern waters which are hotter and where they feed on giant squid.

Rob Deaville, of the ZSL, said: “A large piece of blue plastic sheeting was found in the stomach and ...

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Ocean Cleaning Device Succeeds in Removing Plastic for the First Time

Ocean cleaning device sets sail

An enormous floating device designed by Dutch scientists for the non-profit Ocean Cleanup successfully captured and removed plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the company announced Wednesday, as CNN reported.

Ocean Cleanup has been hard at work on creating a device to attack the plastic waste crisis for seven years, by creating a device that captures plastic in its fold like a giant arm, according to Business Insider. The company announced that it was able to capture and hold debris ranging from large cartons, crates and abandoned fishing gear — or “ghosts nets,” which are a scourge to marine life — to microplastics that are as small as one millimeter, according to an Ocean Cleanup press release.

“Today, I am very proud to share with you that we are now catching plastics,” O...

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Island reveals rising tide of plastic waste

Inaccessible Island in the South Atlantic

A remote island in the southern Atlantic Ocean has helped reveal the scale of the problem of plastic waste facing our seas. Some 75% of bottles washed ashore on Inaccessible Island, in the South Atlantic, were found to be from Asia – with most made in China. Researchers said most of the bottles had been made recently, suggesting they had been discarded by ships.

An estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year. But this figure just covers land-based sources.

The team from South Africa and Canada, writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), said that it had been assumed that most of the debris found at sea was coming from the land.

However, the scientists said the evidence suggested otherwise.

“When we were [on the island, called Inace...

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