Ocean Trash Contaminate Marine Food Chain
269,000 tons of trash, consisting of 5.25 trillion pieces, float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea. The defining moment of ocean debris research, says Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, was when scientists discovered that ocean debris was no longer an assemblage of cloth, wood, and ceramics, but was composed almost entirely of plastic. Most of that is micro-plastic, meaning it has decayed and broken down into microscopic pieces that float in the water column. “Once micro-plastics entered the picture and it was being ingested by marine life, it was a whole new ballgame,” Jambeck, says. “That’s when the alarms started going off.” There goes the fish fad diet! What else is not contaminated?
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Credit: National Geographic