Oceans

Danube Plastic Count Outnumbers Fish Larvae, New Study Finds

In a startling new study, researchers from the University of Vienna have found that the samples they collected from the Danube river contained less fish larvae than they did plastic -- approximately 317 plastic particles to 275 fish larvae per 1,000 m3. This study, which was reported by Kriztina Kupi of Green Fudge News, left even researchers surprised: researchers were intending to take stock of fish larvae presence in their research, but found that industrial plastic outnumbered the subjects they were looking for.

Plastic Waste Ingested by Marine Worms Endangers Food Chain

According to an article from Monga Bay Environmental News, the ingestion of microplastics by a marine worm species called lugworms is posing a risk to the ecosystems they are an important part of. According to Nicholas Barrett, scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth have published a study on the way microplastics impacts the worms' health and behaviour in Current Biology. Replicated in laboratory conditions, the exposure that the worms receive to plastics resulted in a 50% reduction in energy reserves and brought out signs of physical harm.

Microbial Colonies Take Root in the Plastisphere

The “Plastisphere” – a word recently assigned to the man-made ecosystem of plastic debris that spans the world's waterways – has just been found to be home to a range of microbial colonies that could be carrying harmful diseases.

Rio Tackles Pollution Crisis as 2016 Olympics Loom

Rio de Janeiro is set to be hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, an honor that has the city buzzing to perfect its image for the big event. Unfortunately, cleaning up Rio in time for the games is proving a daunting task, even with two years to go until the opening of the show. According to the BBC, Rio is facing a pollution problem in iconic Guanabara Bay that is proving a challenge to tackle. Julia Carniero reports that pollution levels in Guanabara Bay are at critical levels, creating health risks and physical obstructions for sailors training for the games.

Scientists Call for Further Research on 'Plastisphere'

Thanks to the contributions of a culture of single-use plastics, scientists have now begun to refer to the new ecosystem plastics have created in the ocean by its own name: the plastisphere. This biological community has been growing and developing in the ocean for going on six decades – a phenomenon as old as plastic itself – and lately, scientists have found a number of reasons for concern in studying it.

European Commission Tackles Marine Litter in Mediterranean

A meeting of the European Commission last week to determine a course of action on protecting the Mediterranean Sea has had positive results so far, with commissioner Janez Potočnik inviting suggestions on how to reduce plastic pollution levels from the Commission and the public. According to a press release from the European Union, commissioner Potočnik was disturbed by quantities of marine litter present in the Mediterranean, and felt that the problem needed to be addressed. Potočnik comments:

EPA to Study Plastic Debris on Hawaiian Island

In an article on the Los Angeles Times yesterday, Tony Barboza reports that the United States Environmental Protection Agency has begun the process of examining the effects of plastic debris on a remote Hawaiian island airstrip. Tern Island, the site of the study, is a breeding ground for sea birds, and in recent years has been exposed to a huge influx of debris as a result of storm damage to a nearby sea wall. According to the article:

International Approach Needed to Turn Tide on Ocean Pollution

Citing a new study from UCLA, the Los Angeles Times took a stand on behalf of the world's oceans last week, stating that international policy changes were needed to effectively stem the flow of plastic. The opinion piece, authored by Mark Gold and Cara Horowitz, explained that while many success stories have resulted from plastic bag legislation at local levels, statewide legislation is still notably absent. This is often due to lobbying on the part of the plastics industry, which pushes for its own interests to be upheld relentlessly.

Scientist Finds Plastic Pellets in Gooseneck Barnacles

A scientist working on gooseneck barnacles has discovered plastic pellets in his dissected specimens, a finding which spells bad news for a future study. John Upton of Grist writes:

Mississippi Coastal Cleanup Snares 7.5 Tons of Waste, Ends in Celebration Lunch with Plastic Bottled Water

Volunteers in the state of Mississippi were dedicated to their cause last weekend as they donned rain coats and boots and faced stormy weather to take part in a beach cleanup across the state's coastline. An article from the Mississippi PressGulf Live writes that over the weekend, approximately 1,266 volunteers trawled Mississippi beaches in search of garbage, removing 7.5 tons of marine pollution. According to the article:

 

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