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Премия рунета 2017

WWF warns: oceans are drowning in plastics

08 june 2018
Plastics can be found in all oceans in different forms, colours and sizes. Microplastics sometimes appears in human food.

More than 80% of litter comes into ocean from land. Plastics makes 70% of all litter in ocean. Scientists say that volume of plastics increases by 9.5 million tons annually. Half of it comes from China and India.

But these calculations are a rough guess because, say, a plastics bottle thrown out somewhere in South America can travel for many thousands of kilometers carried by winds and currents and can be found anywhere around the world. It can land on some uninhabited island, like, Henderson Island in South Pacific.

The closest large settlement is located as far as five thousand kilometers from Henderson Island. People show up on the beach of Henderson every five to ten years to do some scientific research. That, however, didn’t make any trouble this island much to get a title of “The dirtiest place in the world”. Scientists assessed samples from five beach sites around the island and concluded that the total mass of garbage here equals to 17 tons. These numbers could have been bigger, though, if examiners had dug deeper than 10 centimeters from surface and put samples smaller than 2 millimeters on the list too. Scientists didn’t examine rocky cliffs as well.

Trash on the beach is only a tip of the iceberg, say Australian scientists, who examined the Cocos Islands. There are only islands inhabited here among 27 small coral islands. For about 600 people, who permanently leave here, garbage is a sheer catastrophe. It comes over here from almost everywhere around the Indian Ocean: Malaysia, Thailand, China, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The results of the scientific research conducted on the islands demonstrated that simple surface clean-up helps to get rid of only 25% of all trash on a beach.

© Alexander Kaiser

Lots of plastic particles are present in the Northern seas as well. Ocean currents take it to Greenland and Scandinavia, to the Barents Sea. Hundreds of tons of plastics are swirling around these water areas.

“We all know stories about garbage islands in the oceans, formed by winds and currents,” says Andrey Vinnikov, the head of Sustainable Sea Fishing Program WWF-Russia.

“Those stories depict solid trash masses floating near the water surface. This picture, however, isn’t all true. Trash is present in the whole body of water; the larger debris is the lower it floats in the water body. It’s more like some kind of “plastic soup”. One third of that litter is microplastics which cannot be seen with the naked eye. A person in the middle of such trash island wouldn’t even spot it at all.”

At the same time plastics causes sufferings and death of many fish, seabirds and marine mammals. In fact, plastics influences all species and organisms in marine ecosystems. The latest research reveals the shocking truth: microplastic particles were found in salt, bought in ordinary stores in eight different countries. Probably, it has come in salt from the ocean.