Do you know what the most prevalent type of marine debris we found in our ocean is? Plastics! Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimeters in length are called “microplastics.” Last Water Wednesdays, Dr. Abby Tyrna gave us an overview how microplastics are affecting our marine ecosystems.
The United Nations estimated that up to 13 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year. This is the equivalent of a truck load of plastics dumping into the ocean every minute. Plastics are affecting marine ecosystems in several ways, including entangling marine animals. They may also be eaten by marine animals and cause physical damage to the digestive tract, especially when sharp-edged or pointed plastic items are eaten.
Research indicates that half of sea turtles worldwide have ingested plastic. Some turtles starve after doing to. As their stomachs are full, they mistakenly believe they have eaten. Studies also found that the plastic pollution affects turtles’ reproduction rates by altering the temperatures of the sand where incubation occurs.
To read more about microplastics, please read Contaminants in the Urban Environment: Microplastics.
To watch the recording: