May 16 - Study: Plastics in Ocean Increased 100 Times in Last 40 Years

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Is our world becoming too "plastic"? Recent research shows that our oceans might be.

A new study by Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists indicates that ocean sampling today finds 100 times more pieces of microplastics per cubic meter of water than samples collected in the early 1970s.

And this increase of plastic pieces, commonly mistaken as flotsam, plankton, and food by unsuspecting marine wildlife, could create an ecological disaster.

According to the study, a insect commonly called the "sea skater" lays its eggs on floating pieces on the ocean surface. The more plastic particles there are, the greater its chances of successful reproduction. An explosion of this population will have dire consequences for its competitors that share the same diet of zooplankton and fish eggs--including turtles and other fish.

A 2010 report by a different group of scientists also found that 35% of the fish collected had plastic contents in their stomachs. Because plastic has the ability to attract and adsorb surrounding toxins in the water, including PCBs and DDTs, the bioaccumulation of plastic-related toxins has great potential to travel up through the food chain to the very top.

Take action on local ordinances to stop plastic pollution, and ask your Assembly Member to support a statewide bill to phase out plastic foam food containers.

Read an article or the full study.

(photo credit: Surfrider)