Posted on July 8, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Candy wrappers, styrofoam and other debris showing up in high percentage of dead birds along West Coast
A U.S. Geological Survey photo shows the remains of an albatross along with flotsam in ingested along the way.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite its vastness the Pacific Ocean is not immune to increases in plastic pollution, with concentrations off the coast of the Pacific Northwest reaching the level of the notoriously polluted North Sea, near the densely populated coast of northern Europe.
A new study led by a University of British Columbia researcher focused on the stomach contents of seabirds beached along the coastline from Canada down through Washington and Oregon.
The research group closely examined 67 dead northern fulmars and found that 92.5 per cent had plastics like twine, Styrofoam and candy wrappers in their stomach. On average, each of the dead birds contained 36.8 pieces. The average total weight of plastic was 0.385 grams per bird. One bird was found with 454 pieces of plastic in its stomach. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Bird Studies Canada, Environment, Fulmar, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, North Sea, Pacific Ocean, plastic pollution, pollution, University of British Columbia | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 10, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Floating plastic garbage in the Pacific has created vast new habitat for aquatic insects.
Study shows human garbage is altering marine ecosystems on a large scale
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Scientists have known for years that a significant portion of society’s plastic debris ends up in the oceans, including the so-called great Pacific garbage patch about 1,000 miles west of California.
Most of the plastic is broken down into tiny fingernail-sized pieces, and the amount of plastic garbage has increased 100-fold in just the past 40 years.
Now, in the first empirical sign that the plastic is changing ocean habitats on a large scale, researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego documented an increase in sea skater populations, a pelagic marine insect that normally lays its eggs on naturally occurring flotsam including seashells, seabird feathers, tar lumps and pumice. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, water | Tagged: Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Marine debris, Pacific Ocean, Scripps Institution of Oceanography | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Study suggests shredded plastic bits are pervasive at depths up to 100 feet
Giora Proskurowski deploys a net collect samples that help estimate how much plastic debris is in the ocean. PHOTO COURTESY SEA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Getting a handle on exactly how much plastic debris is floating around the world’s oceans has never been easy. Some of the latest research suggests that some of the previous studies, done by skimming the surface, vastly underestimate the total amount because much of the debris is easily pushed several feet deep into the water by wind.
Oceanographer Giora Proskurowski first noticed the deep-diving plastic while working on a research sailboat in the Pacific, where the water was littered with confetti-size pieces of plastic debris, until the moment the wind picked up and most of the particles disappeared.
After taking samples of water at a depth of 16 feet, Proskurowski, a researcher at the University of Washington, discovered that wind was pushing the lightweight plastic particles below the surface.
Reporting in the journal of Geophysical Research Letters this month, Proskurowski and co-lead author Tobias Kukulka, University of Delaware, said that data collected from just the surface of the water commonly underestimates the total amount of plastic in the water by an average factor of 2.5. In high winds the volume of plastic could be underestimated by a factor of 27. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology | Tagged: Environment, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Marine debris, oceans, Pacific Ocean, plastic pollution | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 10, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
The five major ocean gyres, image via Wikipedia.
Research voyage shows vortex of plastic trash between South America and Africa
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Buoys, buckets, crates and even hard hats are circulating at the center of a gyre in the South Atlantic Ocean, proving that there’s not just one “Texas-size island of garbage” in the north Pacific, as is often published in the mainstream media.
Instead the problem is global, according to researchers with the nonprofit 5 Gyres Institute.
“We have confirmed our suspicion that plastic marine pollution is a global issue, and not confined to the Northern Hemisphere,” said Marcus Eriksen, Ph.D., co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute. The 5 Gyres crew, along with their collaborators at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, have previously discovered plastic pollution in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Indian Ocean. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: 5 Gyres Institute, Environment, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Mary Osborne, Ocean gyre, ocean pollution, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, trash gyres, United Nations Environment Programme | 1 Comment »