Tiny Baubles: Microplastic Mess Threatens World Oceans
Scientists from the University of Hull and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have published research in the journal Science of the Total Environment showing levels of microplastics are five times higher in the Antarctic than previous estimates.
Co-author Dr. Claire Waluda, a BAS biologist, says, “We have monitored the presence of large plastic items in Antarctica for more than 30 years. While we know that bigger pieces can be ingested by seabirds or cause entanglements in seals, the effects of microplastics on marine animals in the Southern Ocean are as yet unknown.”
The tiny beads of plastic come from cosmetics or are shreddings from larger plastic items like clothing or bottles. According to United Nations sources, they may number as many as 51 trillion particles across the seafloor, throughout the oceans and on beaches worldwide. They are considered a serious threat to marine life in general. More international monitoring of the situation is needed, including a requirement for all polar research stations to provide waste treatment options.
For more information, see Tinyurl.com/PlasticInAntarctica.