And our planet’s modifier is in trouble. It’s a Neptune 911 crisis. What can we do to combat our ocean’s struggle with marine debris, hypoxia and acidification? The answers are found in university labs, recognized in world organizations, and ignored by feckless politicians and leaders.
Microplastics in Ocean
She says understanding how plastic gets into fish matters not just to the fish, but to us. “We eat fish that eat plastic,” she says. “Are there things that transfer to the tissue? Does the plastic itself transfer to the tissue? Do the chemicals associated with the plastic transfer to the tissue?”
Prevention starts when consumers refuse to use plastic, or lawmakers try to ban it bag by bag. Also following the adage of reduce, reuse, and recycle what you don’t refuse. But much of the trash that comes ashore appears to come from foreign places or as the detritus from industries notorious for ocean litter.
“One of the types of organisms that seems to be affected is crustacean zooplankton, which are the main prey for many small fishes,” said Höök, whose findings were published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. “The fact that these very small organisms are consuming these microplastics, altering their growth, reproduction and survival, means there could be consequences up the food web. If zooplankton numbers decline, there may be less food available for organisms at higher trophic levels.”
“Microplastic particles were found throughout all cores sampled … It suggests that microplastics are now ubiquitous within the surface waters of the world’s ocean. Nowhere is immune.”
“Given their pervasive and persistent nature, microplastics have become a global environmental concern and a potential risk to human populations,” said Rachel Hurley from the University of Manchester and colleagues in their report, published in Nature Geoscience.