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The sea is swallowing our plastic waste

plastic waste is broken down into microplastics

Huge islands of plastic are floating around our seas and oceans, and all that plastic waste is absorbed into the maritime food chain. Scientists at the University of Cadiz recently showed that microplastics have contaminated some 88 percent of the total surface of the ocean (see their report in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)).

The huge amount of plastic waste has become one of the greatest ever environmental crises.

Furthermore, a great deal of that plastic waste is absorbed into the maritime food chain. Plastic is broken down by the tides, sunlight and salt into minute particles, which fish mistake for food and are killed off en masse because they cannot digest the microplastics. Fish-eating birds also die. Meanwhile, turtles drown because the weight of the plastic they consume causes them to sink to the seabed. All marine life suffers from plastic pollution.

The Spanish scientists say that 88 percent of the ocean’s surface is contaminated with microplastics, and their effect is greater than previously thought. We have known for years that the vast quantity of plastic has accumulated into true islands, and even into a ‘new continent’ in the Pacific Ocean.

The Spanish study makes it clear that much of those islands is consumed by the ocean and its inhabitants. Aside from all those floating islands, 99 percent of the plastic waste is swallowed by marine life! And so we are still a long way off from knowing what the full impact of this plastic pollution upon the maritime ecosystem will be.

Check out these great initiatives to reduce plastic waste


plastic waste forms islands and threatens sea life