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article imageGreenpeace ship highlights plastic pollution risk

By Tim Sandle     Jun 6, 2017 in Environment
The Greenpeace ship Beluga II is currently travelling around Scotland on a scientific expedition, to document the threat of plastic pollution in the most remote and biodiverse areas in the U.K. The results so far are disturbing.
There are a number of concerns with the growing problem of human generated plastic waste in the world's waters. Microbes living on floating pieces of discarded plastic are changing and damaging the ocean ecosystem, posing a toxin risk. The term given to the vast amount of plastic waste in the oceans and the high number of pathogenic bacteria that are attached to the waste is the "Plastisphere." In addition, plastic pollution poses a significant risk to invertebrates that ingest plastics. Some are badly injured, including seabirds; in other cases plastic moves through the food chain and can end up in the fish consumed by humans.
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To study the extent of plastic pollution around the British coastline the Greenpeace ship Beluga II is moving around the seas of Scotland. The environmental organization has said "what we’ve seen so far is shocking." Here plastic has been seen floating in the sea, washed up on beaches and even in the beaks of seabirds.
While visible plastic is a major issue and even bigger concern is with miscroplastics. The bulk of plastic pollution in the seas and oceans of the world is made up of microfibers, with a smaller quantity coming from microbeads (the latter are found in some cosmetic products, usually used in facial cleansers and cosmetics, or in air blasting technology).
Describing the mission, Ariana Densham, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “With 12 million tonnes of plastic ending up in our oceans every year, there’s never been a more important time for us to understand the impact of plastic pollution on our most loved wildlife."
Highlighting a concern with microplastics, the Greenpeace crew, close to the Gunna Sound spotted huge basking sharks. These creatures feed by filtering tiny particles out of huge amounts of water; and this activity, based on tests conducted on the water, places them at risk through inadvertently eating microplastics.
More about Plastic pollution, Pollution, Seas, Oceans, Greenpeace
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