Microplastics in the Oceans has become a growing concern, and a recent study conducted by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of San Diego has shed light on the severity of the issue. The study suggests that the estimates of microplastic pollution have been significantly underestimated, with the actual concentration being up to five to seven times higher than previously calculated, reaching a staggering 8.3 million particles per cubic meter.
Research Shows that Traditional Sampling Methods Failed to Capture the Smallest Microplastics.
For years, researchers have been studying microplastics using nets to collect samples from the oceans. However, the mesh size of these nets was too large to capture the smallest microplastic particles. As Jennifer Brandon, the lead oceanographer of the study, explains, “The mesh of the nets was too wide, and they were not able to collect the smallest microplastics.” Consequently, 90% of studies conducted between 1971 and 2013 focused on plastics measuring up to a maximum of 333 micrometers in diameter.
In contrast, Brandon’s research revealed microplastics as small as 10 micrometers (less than one-hundredth of a millimeter), which is smaller than a human hair.
Microplastics Are Everywhere in the Marine Ecosystem, including the Stomachs of Salps.
One of the major concerns with plastic pollution is its persistence in the environment. “Plastic remains chemically plastic, and it doesn’t return to the ecosystem,” explains Brandon. “Most of it is so durable that neither the microbes in the soil nor the water can break its chemical bonds.”
To investigate the prevalence of microplastics, Brandon analyzed samples of seawater and salps. Salps are gelatinous invertebrates that feed on phytoplankton by filtering water.
Surprisingly, all 100 salps analyzed had microplastics in their stomachs. “It’s a surprising result,” says Brandon. “I had assumed that we wouldn’t find any plastic in some of them, as their stomachs are known to cleanse quite rapidly.”
This discovery has implications for humans as well. Although we don’t directly consume salps, they are a crucial part of the food chain. If a fish consumes a salp, and we consume that fish, the microplastics indirectly end up in our stomachs.
The revelation of the significantly higher concentration of microplastics in our oceans emphasizes the urgent need for action.It is essential to address the issue at its source by reducing plastic waste and promoting sustainable alternatives.
Furthermore, individuals can contribute by adopting responsible waste management practices and supporting initiatives that raise awareness about the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on our oceans and marine life. Only through collective efforts can we mitigate the devastating impact of microplastics and safeguard the health of our oceans for future generations.
How Yachting Enthusiasts Can Contribute to Tackling Microplastic Pollution
In light of the concerning colonization of plastic islands by microorganisms and the overall plastic pollution crisis in our oceans, it is essential to explore sustainable practices within the yachting industry.
Yachting enthusiasts and professionals can contribute to mitigating the problem through the adoption of environmentally friendly approaches. By embracing sustainable practices within the yachting industry, we can collectively make a positive impact on the issue of plastic pollution and protect our oceans and marine ecosystems.
Proper Waste Disposal to Prevent Further Contamination
Proper waste management on yachts is crucial. Ensuring that all waste, including plastics, is collected, segregated, and disposed of appropriately can prevent further contamination of the marine environment. Yachts should have adequate waste storage facilities and collaborate with specialized recycling and waste management services.
Reducing Plastic Footprint Onboard
Yachts can significantly reduce their plastic footprint by avoiding single-use plastics. This includes using reusable water bottles, replacing plastic straws with biodegradable alternatives, and opting for eco-friendly packaging for onboard supplies. Encouraging guests and crew members to embrace these practices can have a positive cumulative impact.
Choosing Environmentally Friendly Products and Practices
Reducing Carbon Footprint through Technological Innovations
Promoting energy-efficient technologies and practices on yachts can reduce their carbon footprint. This can include installing energy-saving lighting systems, optimizing HVAC systems for better energy management, and utilizing renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines to power onboard operations.
Navigating Marine Protected Areas and Plastic-Free Zones
Yachting companies can design itineraries that promote the exploration of marine protected areas, avoiding fragile ecosystems and high-density plastic areas. By raising awareness of the importance of these areas and their preservation, yachters can contribute to the conservation of marine biodiversity.
Taking Action for a Cleaner Future
Yachting companies and enthusiasts can actively support and participate in ocean conservation initiatives. This can involve collaborating with marine research organizations, participating in beach and underwater clean-up activities, and contributing to educational programs that raise awareness about plastic pollution and its impact on marine life.
Learn more about the dangers of plastic in the ocean by reading about the dangers of plastic in the ocean Plastic Accumulation in the Oceans