A scientist has captured a video footage revealing how plastic microfibre is ingested by plankton, and how the material is hampering the life beneath the oceans.
The footage has revealed a new way demonstrating how plastic might be entering into the marine and global food chain. About 150 million tonnes of plastic “disappears” from the global waste stream every year. Plastic waste in the Global seas has been recognized by the United Nations as a major environmental issue.
“When I view the footage, I thought that here was something, visually, to communicate to the public the problem of plastic in the sea,” said Richard Kirby, who captured the footage.
“What fascinates me is that because the fibre has made a loop inside the animal’s gut, you can actually observe the effects of something as small as the arrow worm consuming microplastic.
Dr. Kirby, a self-styled Plankton Pundit, said that people were acquainted with the idea of large marine animals – such as whales, seals and birds swallowing these plastic bags.
“But most importantly there was a tiny fibre that resulted in the blockage in something as small as a Sagitta setosa, a member of the plankton which is stopping food progressing down.”
Although Dr. Kirby had acknowledged the effects of microplastic on plankton earlier, this was the first time when actual video footage was captured.
The issue of plastic waste entering into marine environment is increasing which is rising up the political and policy agenda. The United Nations has found that there are 46,000 pieces of waste plastic per square mile of sea. So, The international body’s environment agency, UNEP, has set up a #CleanSeas campaign.
The UN has estimated around 51 trillion (500 times as many stars estimated to be in our galaxy) particles of microplastic present in the global seas and oceans.
The huge presence of plastic in our waters indicates that it was a problem for arrow worms, said Emily Baxter, senior marine conservation officer for the North West Wildlife Trusts.
‘Genie out of the bottle’
Past studies have revealed the problem of plastic waste in the world’s oceans. Researchers have raised question over the fact that plastic is listed as non-hazardous waste.
Dr. Mark Browne, who has published various papers on the effects of plastic waste on the marine environment, said: “Plastic waste is not filtrating the ecosystem at a global scale and this video footage enhances the growing body of evidence revealing that polymers are usually ingested by animals.”
“The key concern here is whether this material cause ecological impacts and why are governments not making use of robust science to replace such problematic products with safer options?”