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There May Be Almost a Million Times More Microplastics in the Oceans Than We Thought

The amount of plastic in the oceans around California may be almost a million times more abundant than previously calculated.

Scientists writing in Limnology and Oceanography Letters estimate the true number of microplastics per cubic meter is 8.3 million—not ten as previously stated.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, developed a new method of counting plastic. It shows more traditional methods may be missing some of the smaller microplastics, with the effect of underestimating the degree to which plastic is contaminating the world’s oceans.

These traditional methods involve trawling a mesh net below water. The bulk of studies use a mesh fine enough to separate plankton from seawater but not fine enough, it appears, to capture microplastics smaller than 333 micrometers, or one-third of a millimeter—a microplastic is considered anything that is smaller than 5 millimeters.

But by using surface seawater samples and salps, the team at UC Diego were able to collect microplastics just 10 micrometers in size. The thickness of a piece of paper, for perspective, is 100 micrometers.

“For years we’ve been doing microplastics studies the same way (by) using a net to collect samples. But anything smaller than that net mesh has been escaping,” lead author Jennifer Brandon, a biological oceanographer with UC San Diego, said in a statement. Brandon developed the method when she was a graduate student at the university.

Salps are a group of gelatinous and often transparent creatures that can vary in size from a few millimeters to a few meters. They frequently group together to form longer chains (or wheels) when they reach maturity. They are filter feeders, taking in food (and microplastics) from the surrounding water. Because the size of the pores on their filters are just 5 micrometers they can absorb infinitesimally small particles.

“They are passive filter-feeders, meaning they don’t select what particles they eat based on anything but size,” Brandon told Newsweek. “So if there are microplastics in the water, they will eat them.”

Microplastics on Beach
Microplastics pictured here on Almaciga Beach, Tenerife, may be far more abundant than previously thought. DESIREE MARTIN/AFP/Getty

Using specimens collected at the Scripps Pelagic Invertebrate Collection, the researchers were able to study samples of salps collected over the years during expeditions in the North Pacific to find out how much microplastic they were ingesting. The team found that the mini-particles included in the study were five orders of magnitude more common than particles 333 micrometers or more.

“We were surprised at how high the numbers were,” said Brandon. “But we expected the mini-microplastics to be higher than the previous recorded numbers of microplastics, because as microplastics break down, they make more and more smaller pieces”

When compared to seawater samples collected at surface level, the team found the microplastics discovered in the salps were “significantly smaller.” They also observed particles were more abundant in samples collected closer to the land than they were in samples collected near the garbage patch, something that may be explained by runoff pollution.

While the effect of microplastic pollution on human health is not widely understood, research has shown that it has a detrimental effect animals further down the food chain. For example, a study has shown exposure to polystyrene microplastics affects oyster reproduction.

“[Plastic] keeps breaking down but stays chemically plastic and doesn’t go back into the ecosystem,” said Brandon.

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Source: There May Be Almost a Million Times More Microplastics in the Oceans Than We Thought

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You might not be able to see them, but they’re in the water. Although trash heaps are easier to spot in waterways, microplastics—pieces of plastic smaller than five millimeters—have started to stir more concern. Acting as sponges, the pieces soak up the chemicals around them and often make their way through the food chain, ending up on dinner plates. Most microplastics are created over time from larger pieces or directly from microbeads in products like face washes or toothpaste. The pieces are so small they pass through waste treatment plants and into waterways. ➡ Subscribe: http://bit.ly/NatGeoSubscribe About National Geographic: National Geographic is the world’s premium destination for science, exploration, and adventure. Through their world-class scientists, photographers, journalists, and filmmakers, Nat Geo gets you closer to the stories that matter and past the edge of what’s possible. Get More National Geographic: Official Site: http://bit.ly/NatGeoOfficialSite Facebook: http://bit.ly/FBNatGeo Twitter: http://bit.ly/NatGeoTwitter Instagram: http://bit.ly/NatGeoInsta VIDEOGRAPHER/EDITOR: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo SPECIAL THANKS: Nancy Donnelly, Julie Lawson, and District Fishwife ADDITIONAL FOOTAGE: NG Creative Are Microplastics in Our Water Becoming a Macroproblem? | National Geographic https://youtu.be/ZHCgA-n5wRw National Geographic https://www.youtube.com/natgeo

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The World’s Largest Ocean Cleanup Has Officially Begun

A floater from The Ocean Cleanup.

Ambitious dreams have now become a reality as the Ocean Cleanup deploys its $20 million system designed to clean up the 1.8 trillion pieces of trash floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Check out another Forbes piece on how Ocean Cleanup aims to reuse and recycle the ocean plastic.

The floating boom system was deployed on Saturday from San Francisco Bay and will undergo several weeks of testing before being hauled into action. The system was designed by the nonprofit Ocean Cleanup, which was founded in 2013 by 18-year-old Dutch inventor Boyan Slat. Their mission is to develop “advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.”

The floating boom system, with the help of dozens of more booms, is estimated to clean up half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within the first five years. Each boom will trap up to 150,000 pounds of plastic per year as they float along the currents between California and Hawaii.

Read More:

The Ocean Cleanup Isn’t Capturing Plastic, But Organizers Are Testing A Solution

Founder Of Ocean Cleanup Vows Return, Says Failure Talk Is ‘Rubbish’

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a vortex of trash created from an ocean gyre in the central North Pacific. The trash vortex was discovered in the mid-1980s and lies halfway between Hawaii and California.

Location of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the subtropical convergence zone.

Location of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the subtropical convergence zone.

NOAA

The garbage patch is so large, it is easily detectable from space via satellites and covers roughly 1.6 million square kilometers and 1.8 trillion pieces of debris. The trash is collected and trapped within a circulating ocean current, called a gyre. This prevents the distribution of the garbage patch, a benefit when creating a system to collect the plastic.

The floating boom system, after undergoing testing, will be towed out 1,400 miles to the garbage patch around mid-October and begin collecting trash. The floating boom drifts along with the local currents, creating a U-shaped formation. As the boom floats, it collects trash in the U shaped system, which has 10 feet of netting below it to collect smaller fragments of plastic. Once the boom is full, a vessel will meet the boom to collect the plastic and transport it to land for sorting and recycling.

The idea is that the 10 feet of netting is not deep enough that fish can’t swim below it, with the hope that the boom will collect trash and not fish. However, this is something that remains to be seen in the open ocean.

While the organization has ambitious plans and the technology still remains unproven in the open ocean, they are the closest to a solution to cleaning up the garbage patch we have. No other company has a deployable system able to clean up the garbage patch on this scale.

The company is backed by some heavy hitters in the tech industry, including Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce.com

Continued testing and deployment of additional boom systems will help further refine the systems to be more efficient and less disruptive to ocean ecosystems.

Trevor Nace is a PhD geologist, founder of Science Trends, Forbes contributor, and explorer. Follow his journey @trevornace.

I am a geologist passionate about sharing Earth’s intricacies with you. I received my PhD from Duke University where I studied the geology and climate of the Amazon

Source: The World’s Largest Ocean Cleanup Has Officially Begun

The Ocean Cleanup System Begins Removing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Sead Fadilpasic

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A Dutch non-profit organization announced they were working on advanced technologies in an attempt to remove the plastic waste from the world’s oceans. The Ocean Cleanup launched in September the cleanup system called “System 001” from the San Francisco Bay. On October 16, the system reached a location 240 nautical miles offshore, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, to begin the operation on its removal. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the world’s largest accumulation zone of ocean plastic pollution. It contains 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, covering an area twice the size of Texas……

Read more: https://techacute.com/the-ocean-cleanup-system-removes-plastic-from-oceans/

 

 

 

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The World’s Largest Ocean Cleanup Has Officially Begun -Trevor Nace

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Ambitious dreams have now become a reality as the Ocean Cleanup deploys its $20 million system designed to clean up the 1.8 trillion pieces of trash floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Check out another Forbes piece on how Ocean Cleanup aims to reuse and recycle the ocean plastic. The floating boom system was deployed on Saturday from San Francisco Bay and will undergo several weeks of testing before being hauled into action. The system was designed by the nonprofit Ocean Cleanup, which was founded in 2013 by 18-year-old Dutch inventor Boyan Slat. Their mission is to develop “advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic…..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2018/09/10/the-worlds-largest-ocean-cleanup-has-officially-begun/#c5a9f622738c

 

 

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

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