Researcher says "It's like Walmart or Target set afloat"
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 12 December, 2014 - Researchers unveiled on Wednesday what they called the most scientifically rigorous estimate to date of the amount of plastic litter in the oceans - about 269,000 tons - based on data from 24 ship expeditions around the globe over six years.
"There's much more plastic pollution out there than recent estimates suggest," said Marcus Eriksen, research director for the Los Angeles-based 5 Gyres Institute, which studies this kind of pollution.
"It's everything you can imagine made of plastic," added Eriksen, who led the study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. "It's like Walmart or Target set afloat."
Ninety-two percent of the plastic comes in the form of "microplastic" - particles from larger items made brittle by sunlight and pounded to pieces by waves, bitten by sharks and other fish or otherwise torn apart, Eriksen said.
Experts have sounded the alarm in recent years over how plastic pollution is killing huge numbers of seabirds, marine mammals and other creatures while sullying ocean ecosystems.
Some plastic objects like discarded fishing nets kill by entangling dolphins, sea turtles and other animals. Plastic fragments also lodge in the throats and digestive tracts of marine animals.
The researchers said plastic litter enters the oceans from rivers and heavily populated coastal regions as well as from vessels navigating shipping lanes.