A team of about 15 scientists on a research sailboat has just completed a two-and-a-half year, 70,000-mile voyage looking at some of the world's smallest, but most important, creatures: plankton.
The microscopic creatures at the bottom of the food chain play an over-sized role in the global ecosystem.
"There are all kinds of microscopic life that do incredibly important functions for managing the planet, ensuring the well-being of the planet, generating the oxygen we breathe, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and generally maintaining this earth in a state that is habitable for us human beings," explains Tara Oceans scientist Chris Bowler.
The Tara team collected samples of sea-water and found, they say, about 1.5 million species of plankton - twice the number previously known to exist.
They found something else too: minute shreds of plastic. In fact, they found more plastic than plankton - especially in the Antarctic.
"We thought that areas like the Antarctic were pristine, being isolated, far away from humanity -- the fact that we found plastic debris down there - in terms of tens of thousands of pieces - is very sad, because this will hang around for thousands of years," says Bowler
The Tara research vessel has recently completed a 70,000-mile journey around the world's oceans collecting data on plankton biodiversity. The international team of scientists have discovered over one million new species on their voyage and produced amazing images of plankton using groundbreaking technology.
The research provides a snapshot of marine micro-organisms - but points out how much plastic we dump in the ocean, with up to 50,000 plastic fragments per square mile within the Atlantic.
These plastics will not break down for hundreds of thousands of years, and can enter the food chain through fish, seabirds and other marine animals. The toxins can poison the ocean, and also find their way into humans through seafood.
Plastic nanoparticles released when plastic debris decomposes in seawater can have an adverse effect on sea animals, Dutch scientists have found.
Nanoparticles of plastic measuring just thirty millionths of a millimeter, invisible to the naked eye, are responsible for inhibiting feeding and growth in mussels, according to new research by Professor Bart Koelmans of Wageningen University and his research team.
They published a report of their investigations in the most recent issue of the journal “Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.”
“The presence of plastic soup in the oceans is regarded as a big problem,” says Koelmans, a professor of water and sediment quality who is associated with IMARES, the Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies, at Wageningen University.
The plastic soup is formed when plastic debris decomposes in seawater. “Such particles are probably also released from cosmetics and from clothes in the wash, subsequently entering the sewage system and surface waters and eventually reaching the sea,” Koelmans explains
Originally posted by isyeye
this part is my response (maryhinge)
Now this type of pic always makes me think of the idea that
these could be infant biological ufos iknow it is a silly idea.
but i always think thisedit on 28/9/2012 by maryhinge because: (no reason given)
philwareedit on 28/9/2012 by maryhinge because: (no reason given)
flag/staredit on 28/9/2012 by maryhinge because: just so it makes more sense plus flag/star