Seal trapped in plastic pollution
Before we develop further the realities and consequences of the plastic-covered beaches, seafloor and plastic-instilled seawater, it is necessary to present simple facts about plastic itself.
Only in 1997, with Captain Charles Moore’s discovery, was the plastic waste pollution in the ocean widely brought to media light and finally began to receive more serious attention from the public and the scientific world, stepping the way to more exhaustive research about plastic and its consequences and effects when entering marine life.
Of the 260 million tons of plastic the world produces each year, about 10 percent ends up in the Ocean, according to a Greenpeace report (Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans, 2006). Seventy percent of the mass eventually sinks, damaging life on the seabed. The rest floats in open seas, often ending up in gyres, circular motion of currents, forming conglomerations of swirling plastic trash called garbage patches, or ultimately ending up washed ashore on someone’s beach.
But the washed up or floating plastic pollution is a lot more than an eyesore or a choking/entanglement hazard for marine animals or birds. Once plastic debris enters the water, it becomes one of the most pervasive problems because of plastic’s inherent properties: buoyancy, durability (slow photo degradation), propensity to absorb waterborne pollutants, its ability to get fragmented in microscopic pieces, and more importantly, its proven possibility to decompose, leaching toxic Bisphenol A (BPA) and other toxins in the seawater.
“Plastics are a contaminant that goes beyond the visual”, says Bill Henry of the Long Marine Laboratory, UCSC.
Article & image from Coastal Care