December 16, 2019
Scientists have made a disturbing discovery in our oceans – there are a million times more microplastics floating around than previously estimated.
The new data reveals that smaller particles have been under-sampled as they were found in the stomachs of gelatinous plankton.
Following this study, experts have now determined there are 8.3 million pieces per cubic feet of water – a number that is seven times more than the previous estimate.
The study was conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and led by biological oceanographer Jennifer Brandon who found some of the tiniest microplastics in seawater at much higher concentrations than previously measured.
‘For years we’ve been doing microplastics studies the same way, by using a net to collect samples,’ Brandon said.
‘But anything smaller than that net mesh has been escaping.’
Most plastics are so chemically strong that neither microbes in soil nor water can break down the elemental bonds.
Brandon decided to turn her attention to salps, which are gelatinous filter-feeding invertebrates that suck in water to eat and to propel themselves around the upper 6,500 feet of the ocean –and their stomachs were a likely place to find mini-microplastics.
She studied 100 slaps from 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 and found all of them had mini-microplastics in their guts.
This article was posted: Monday, December 16, 2019 at 5:20 am