More Plastic Than Plankton

There’s more plastic than plankton in the ocean — about 6x more. Every piece of plastic ever made basically still exists; pieces break down but never decompose entirely. The impact of 100+ years of plastics production on our oceans is tragic, and seemingly unfixable. Heartbreaking (but tiny) video: Our Synthetic Sea.

Long list of resources on the topic of our plastinated oceans. The biggest problem are nurdles – the raw material used to make everything from CDs to plastic pipe. America alone produces 100 billion pounds of nurdles each year. In the ocean, they function as attractants for extremely high ratios of PCBs and other toxins. Since they look to fish and birds just like fish eggs, they are consumed by sea life in quantity. But while plastic in the oceans is a mixture of pre-consumer and post-consumer, “The American Plastics Council says the problem is not with the people who manufacture the material, but rather the people who use it.” In other words, litter.

Humans have a hubris that we can fix any problem we create. But it’s our belief that this is one problem we can’t fix. All we can do is stop polluting and hope the ocean will clean itself up in a few hundred years.

Send a message to your governor asking for support reducing the amount of garbage being legally dumped into oceans.

Music: Turtles :: You Showed Me

2 Replies to “More Plastic Than Plankton”

  1. While I was at the Midway Atoll during the summer of 2001 I found it very disheartening to be on patrol for plastics. We had as an ecotourism organization (the company) and a subcontractor to the Dept. of the Interior for maintainance of the island atoll must clean it up regularly. One time I remember heading from Sand Island (the main island of the Atoll) to Eastern and Spit islands to do shoreline cleanup. At times we had 20-30 *tons* of material to gather up on the shore. Those were light duty also. The volume of stuff in the ocean is flabbergasting to even those prepared for the shock of it. I remember seeing the small Albatros chicks dead and rotting in the nests from lack of food. Not that their parenting birds didn’t try. They simply mistook the plastics in the ocean for squid, and regurgitated that back to the chicks which promptly thought they were full but starved to death due to the plastics not passing out. What was often left in the nests were just a ball of small plastic items. Quite sad indeed.

  2. God, that’s the most depressing picture I can imagine. It’s almost inconceivable to imagine a clean-up effort extensive enough to make a dent in the amount of plastic now in our oceans.

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