Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ocean Plastics

Here we get into the topic of plastics and garbage finding its way into our oceans. First off I would like to list some properties of plastics when it comes to degredation:
- Photo degeneration
- Molecular plastics
- Concentration in the neuston
o May be too small to be seen

Concentrations of plastics reached 1 million pieces per square mile. The study found concentrations of plastics of 3.34 pieces with a mean mass of 5.1 milligrams per square meter. Now when you stop to think about it, thats a fair bit of unnatural material in our oceans waters. One thing we learned that shocked me was the actual existance of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
As defined by Wikipedia: "also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135° to 155°W and 35° to 42°N Although many scientists suggest that the patch extends over a very wide area, with estimates ranging from an area the size of the state of Texas to one larger than the continental United States, the exact size is unknown. Recent data collected from Pacific albatross populations suggest there may be two distinct zones of concentrated debris in the Pacific."
Essentially, it is a culmination of garbage dumped into the oceans from various countries boardering the Pacific Ocean. A "continent" of trash. The albatross that live near this monster do not realize that it is NOT food and feed it to their children, who have been known to have bodies filled with bottlecaps as they cannot be digested or broken down in any way. its really creepy. I have heard of such thing but thought of this patch as a more doomsday scenerio or myth. It is really shocking to be proved wrong. It freaks me out to know that we (people) have inadvertantly created an oceanic garbage dump/continent.
Some more impacts on wildlife by plastics in our oceans includes:
- Resemble zooplankton
- Consumed by jellyfish, entering the ocean food chain
- Plastic : zooplankton, 7:1
- Marine birds and animals
o Sea turtles
o Black footed albatross (mentiond above in the section of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch)

No comments:

Post a Comment