More than 270,000 tons of plastic floating in oceans

Study estimates more than 270,000 tons of plastic floating in oceans

A new study published in PLOS One has estimated nearly 270,000 tons of plastic floating in the oceans and the plastic is breaking apart, leading to microplastics and this could lead to massive environmental issues. The study team, led by Environmental scientist Marcus Eriksen estimated the plastic floating in the oceans as a result of 24 expeditions over six years.

The study team took samples from the Mediterranean Sea, Bay of Bengal, Pacific Ocean, Australian region and Indian Ocean. The research team estimates nearly 5.25 trillion plastic particles floating in the oceans.

Marcus Eriksen, PhD, Director of Research for the 5 Gyres Institute, said, "Our findings show that the garbage patches in the middle of the five subtropical gyres are not the final resting places for the world's floating plastic trash. The endgame for micro-plastic is interactions with entire ocean ecosystems."

The research team also found that the churning motion of the gyres is leading to faster disintegration of plastic waste compared to earlier estimates. The smaller particles sink and travel with deeper water currents to other parts of the ocean. Some particles are also consumed by different species living in the ocean including zooplankton, fish, birds and whales.

The smaller plastic pieces cause more trouble that the larger ones as they are ingested by species living in the water. Also, the smaller pieces of plastic won’t be easy to clean up. The research team has suggested that it would be better for the environment if the waste management on land is improved to reduce the pollution in the oceans.

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