Posted on October 30, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Sea water off the east coast of Greenland looked a bit like marbled paper in October 2012. The shifting swirls of white were sea ice, as observed by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on October 17, 2012. In fact, this ice moved discernibly between October 16 and October 17. Thin, free-drifting ice moves very easily with winds and currents. Click the image for more info from the NASA Earth Observatory.
German study finds litter on the seafloor in the Fram Strait
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Underwater cameras used primarily to track ecological changes on the floor of the Arctic Sea have helped German researchers quantify increases in the amount of plastic waste in the region. In some places, concentrations of garbage are higher than those found in a deep-sea canyon near Lisbon, Portugal.
“The main victims of the increasing contamination of the seafloor are the deep-sea inhabitants,” said Dr. Melanie Bergmann, biologist and deep-sea expert at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association. “Almost 70 percent of the plastic litter that we recorded had come into some kind of contact with deep-sea organisms. For example we found plastic bags entangled in sponges, sea anemones settling on pieces of plastic or rope, cardboard and a beer bottle colonised by sea lilies,” Bergmann said. (more…)
Filed under: Arctic, Environment | Tagged: Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Arctic Sea, Environment, Fram Strait, plastic pollution | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Studies now show widespread impacts to marine life
Patches of plastic debris accumulate where they are concentrated by ocean currents.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With some parts of the world’s oceans literally choking on plastic debris, environmental activists say it’s time for the EPA to take the lead in regulating plastic pollution in a systematic way.
The Center for Biological Diversity, well-known for effective legal action that has resulted in protection for numerous rare species, last week petitioned to EPA to limit plastic pollution under the Clean Water Act.
Plastic production and consumption has spiraled out of control. The Center for Biological Diversity’s petition claims that the amount made in the past 10 years exceeds all the plastic in history up to the year 2000 — and every year, billions of pounds end up in the world’s oceans. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Act, EPA, marine conservation, oceans, plastic pollution | 1 Comment »
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 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 July 1, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
The five ocean gyres.
New study sheds light on ingestion rates
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — After a detailed study of marine life in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a group of graduate students from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego found evidence of plastic waste in more than 9 percent of the stomachs of fish collected during their voyage.
They concluded that fish in the intermediate ocean depths of the North Pacific ingest plastic at a rate of roughly 12,000- to 24,000 tons per year, according to a press release from the Scripps Institution.
“About nine percent of examined fishes contained plastic in their stomach. That is an underestimate of the true ingestion rate because a fish may regurgitate or pass a plastic item, or even die from eating it. We didn’t measure those rates, so our nine percent figure is too low by an unknown amount,” said Peter Davison, co-author of the paper that was published June 27 in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology | Tagged: Environment, marine biology, marine science, North Pacific Gyre, Pacific garbage patch, plastic pollution, plastic trash found in fish, Summit County News | Leave a Comment »