In honor of Earth Day which was on April 23, I decided to create a thread about an environmental issue that is having a negative impact on the food chain. It is plastics.
Plastics may be the cause behind the decline in the number of Salmon returning from the oceans to spawn.
According to the AFC News Source, plastic is in the plankton, the very bottom of the food chain. It is estimated that there is six times more plastic debris in parts of the North Pacific Ocean than zooplankton.
According to the nonprofit Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, California, tens of thousands of mammals and birds swallow the plastic. The plastic is dumped from countries worldwide, lost by ships or washed out to sea from urban areas. Furthermore, plastic becomes a “toxic sponge,” soaking up pollutants in the water. Charles Moore, founder of Algalita Marine Research Foundation, says the ultimate concern is that humans could wind up consuming the plastic – and its absorbed pollutants – as it makes its way up the food chain.
Since plastic is not biodegradable, it doesn’t disappear. It just gets smaller. One pound of plastic will turn into 100,000 small pieces of plastic if left in the ocean.
While oil spills get more attention as an environmental threat, Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer says plastic is a far more serious danger to the ocean’s health. Oil is harmful but eventually biodegrades, while plastic remains forever, he says. Half of beach debris worldwide is plastic and its impact on the food chain is undetermined, Ebbesmeyer says. Not much is known about the effect of plastic consumption on marine life like jellyfish and fish. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it just gets broken into smaller pieces resembling zooplankton. The plastic is eaten by jellyfish, which are then eaten by fish. In addition to substituting for actual nutrients, plastic also chemically attracts hydrocarbon pollutants found in the ocean like PCBs and DDT. Moore says pollutants accumulate in plastic up to one million times more than in ocean water.
Don’t think that plastic bag that was left on the beach is harmless. It washes into the ocean where the ocean “uses what she can get”. The ocean will grind it up and feed it to it’s critters. If the critters make it to our tables, then we, too, consume these toxins known to us as plastic.
The most frightening part is that unlike oil which eventually breaks down, plastic is forever.
Read the complete article here. Contact information is included in the article.