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Mon 07 Jun 2004
Drowning in an ocean of plastic
Category : envt
Stephen Leahy writes about "Drowning in an ocean of plastic" in Wired News, 5th June 2004.
"The United Nations has turned its attention to the oceans for World Environment Day, and one of the main evildoers is a familiar one -- plastic. Marine trash, mainly plastic, is killing more than a million seabirds and 100,000 mammals and sea turtles each year, said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a statement."
- Plastic bags, bottle tops and polystyrene foam coffee cups are often found in the stomachs of dead sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles and others.
- Fulmars, a type of seagull, had an average of 30 pieces of plastic in their stomachs.
- Big pieces of plastic look like jellyfish or squid, while small pieces look like fish eggs.
- Albatross parents fly huge distances to feed their young a deadly diet of plastic bottle caps, lighters and light sticks.
- In the middle of the North Pacific, six pounds of plastic found for every pound of algae.
- About 20 percent of the plastic in the oceans comes from ships or offshore platforms; the rest is blown or washed off the land.
- Plastic kill marine animals that eat it or get tangled in it and drown, but it also damages and degrades their habitat.
- Plastic can leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals like biphenyl A.
- Most plastics don't biodegrade.
- Microscopic pieces of plastic can even be found inside plankton, the keystone of the marine food chain.
- The amount of plastic particles in the oceans has at least tripled since the 1960s.
"It's just dawning on people that the oceans are in deep trouble."