Tag Archives: plastic pollution

Ocean Plastics – How does that affect me?

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Experts are warning that humans “have the most to lose” from the manmade, toxic pollutants that marine life are being exposed to.

A leading scientist reported to Sky News that the millions of tonnes of plastic pollution floating in the world’s oceans could pose a threat to human health.

 Dr Robbie Smith, from the Bermuda Natural History Museum, warned plastic rubbish is attracting other chemical pollutants washed into the sea – such as flame retardants and pesticides – as sunlight breaks plastic down and waves churn it into tiny fragments.

Because the plastic pieces look so similar to the natural prey of marine animals, the chemicals then get passed up the food chain.

Dr Smith said: “The more we look where plastic is and the form it’s in, big or small, the stronger it is integrated into food webs.

“The only place it can go once it is in the food web is up to the top, and we are sitting at the top. So we have the most to lose here.”  Scientists have already found evidence of toxic chemicals in other predators at the top of the marine food chain.

The Sky News team joined the Ocean Tech team on an expedition to the Challenger Bank several miles off the Bermudan coast.  There, the scientists caught a three-metre (9.8ft) tiger shark and took biopsies from its fin for toxicology tests.

Choy Aming, who is part of the team, said: “As animals are digesting, the animals they have eaten have also ingested the toxins, the plastics and manmade pollutants we are putting into the ocean.

“So they work their way up the food chain into the sharks. Typically they have large levels because they are a top predator.”

Bermuda is increasingly alarmed by the amount of rubbish washing up on its shores.

It is on the edge of the Atlantic garbage patch, a swirling mass of plastic that is hundreds of kilometres wide and has been concentrated by the ocean currents.

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Plastics disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces

 

Scientists trawling a fine-mesh net have found up to 200,000 pieces per square kilometre.  Most are just millimetres across – fragments of the myriad of plastic items in use today.

Sky News was taken by marine conservationist Chris Flook to Castle Island, a remote part of the Bermudan archipelago. High tide had brought in a sheen of almost invisible microplastic.  He said: “Out in the ocean you would see small fish and jellyfish feeding on stuff that is blue, white and purple.  “And (the plastic) we see here is blue, white and purple.  “This is the nightmare here, when the plastic gets to this size.”

Eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the world’s oceans every year. That is the equivalent of one full rubbish lorry’s worth every minute.

But the plastic does not disappear – it just disintegrates into ever smaller pieces over several decades.

By 2050, it is predicted that so much plastic will have accumulated in the world’s oceans that it will weigh more than all the fish combined.

A reminder of our four point plan to tackle this issue and how you can help

 

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World Oceans Day – What’s it got to do with me?

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#WorldOceansDay is on June 8th.  It is an annual celebration of the oceans and how important they are to everyone.

“But what’s that got to do with me?”  I hear you say……”I live miles from the ocean”.  You probably think it’s a bunch of hippy surfers who have nothing in common with you.  Well you are WRONG!!

The oceans are the lifeblood of this planet.  They flow over nearly three quarters of the planet and hold 97% of the planet’s water.  They produce more than half the oxygen in the atmosphere and absorb most of the carbon from it.

No matter how far from the shore that you live, oceans still affect your life and the lives of your families and friends, classmates and colleagues.

The air that you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, the products that keep you warm, safe, informed, and entertained — all can come from or be transported by the ocean.

So, how does your plastic bag or bottle get into the ocean, and what is the alternative?

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World Oceans Day – the effects and what YOU can do TODAY.

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World Oceans Day is an annual celebration on June 8th which has been in existence since 2002.

A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival. Every year, World Oceans Day provides a unique opportunity to help protect and conserve the world’s oceans. Oceans are very important:

  • They generate most of oxygen we breathe    
  • They help feed us
  • They regulate our climate
  • They clean the water we drink
  • They offer a pharmacopoeia of medicines
  • They provide limitless inspiration!

If you participate in a World Oceans Day event or activity this year you can help protect the ocean for the future! It’s up to each one of us to help ensure that our ocean is healthy for future generations. World Oceans Day allows us to:

  • Change perspective – encourage individuals to think about what the ocean means to them and what it has to offer all of us with hopes of conserving it for present and the future generations.
  • Learn – discover the wealth of diverse and beautiful ocean creatures and habitats, how our daily actions affect them, and how we are all interconnected.
  • Change our ways – we are all linked to, and through, the ocean! By taking care of your backyard and helping in your community, you are acting as a caretaker of our ocean. Making small modifications to your everyday habits will make a difference, and involving your family, friends, and community will benefit our blue planet even more!
  • Celebrate – whether you live inland or on the coast, we are all connected to the ocean. Take the time to think about how the ocean affects you, and how you affect the ocean, and then organize or participate in activities that celebrate our ocean.

 

If we do nothing, then the future for our Planet is very bleak.  Henderson Island, an uninhabited island in the South Pacific is littered with the highest density of plastic waste anywhere in the world, according to a study.  Part of the UK’s Pitcairn Islands group, the island has an estimated 37.7 million pieces of debris on its beaches.

37 million trash

The island is near the centre of an ocean current, meaning it collects much rubbish from boats and South America.  The joint Australian and British study said the rubbish amounted to 671 items per square metre and a total of 17 tonnes.

“A lot of the items on Henderson Island are what we wrongly refer to as disposable or single-use,” said Dr Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania.

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The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, described how remote islands act as a “sink” for the world’s rubbish.

In addition to fishing items, Henderson Island was strewn with everyday things including toothbrushes, cigarette lighters and razors. Dr Lavers added  “Land crabs are making their homes inside bottle caps, containers and jars,”

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“At first it looks a little bit cute, but it’s not. This plastic is old, it’s sharp, it’s brittle and toxic.”  A large number of hard hats of “every shape, colour and size” were also discovered, the marine scientist said.

It is hoped that people will “rethink their relationship with plastic”.

Scale of waste

Henderson Island is listed by Unesco as a coral atoll with a relatively unique ecology, notable for 10 plant and four bird species.

It is 190km (120 miles) from Pitcairn Island, about 5,000km from Chile, and sits near the centre of the South Pacific Gyre – a massive rotating current.

The condition of the island highlighted how plastic debris has affected the environment on a global scale, Dr Lavers said.

“Almost every island in the world and almost every species in the ocean is now being shown to be impacted one way or another by our waste,” she said.

“There’s not really any one person or any one country that gets a free pass on this.”

She said plastic was devastating to oceans because it was buoyant and durable.

The research was conducted by the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and the Centre for Conservation Science at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Courtesy of Greg Dunlop, BBC

On World Oceans Day make your first move towards a cleaner, safer ocean by taking the simple step of reducing your use of single-use plastics.  Here are 10 simple ways YOU can make difference TODAY!

use less plastic

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