Plastic in ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ Has Increased 100-Fold
ENVIRONMENT, 21 May 2012
by Common Dreams staff - TRANSCEND Media Service
Plastic garbage in the ocean has increased 100-fold in the past 40 years and could have ecosystem-wide impacts, according to a study released Tuesday [8 May 2012].
Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography looked at the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG), known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch,’ and found an “alarming amount” of plastic trash, much in small bits.
The plastic trash was leading to an increase in “sea skaters,” a marine insect, eggs because the insects were using the increased plastic floating matter as to lay their eggs on. This increase may have widespread impacts across the marine food web.
“This paper shows a dramatic increase in plastic over a relatively short time period and the effect it’s having on a common North Pacific Gyre invertebrate,” said Scripps graduate student Miriam Goldstein, lead author of the study and chief scientist of SEAPLEX, a UC Ship Funds-supported voyage. “We’re seeing changes in this marine insect that can be directly attributed to the plastic.”
“Plastic only became widespread in late ’40s and early ’50s, but now everyone uses it and over a 40-year range we’ve seen a dramatic increase in ocean plastic,” added Goldstein. “Historically we have not been very good at stopping plastic from getting into the ocean so hopefully in the future we can do better.”
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