How does plastic waste affect marine life

How does plastic waste affect marine life?

Date Published: April 28, 2020

Each year, an estimated 14 billion pounds of trash, most of it plastic, finds its way into the world’s oceans. How does this plastic waste affect marine life? Multiple studies have been performed showing that this plastic pollution from plastic bags to microplastics is causing a huge disruption in the ecosystem. It has been estimated that 100,000 creatures become entangled in plastic trash and die each year.

Marine life ingests plastic waste

Sailors report that the #1 man-made item they see in the ocean is plastic bags. Many of these bags end up being eaten by sea turtles and other marine life. The turtles mistake the floating plastic bags for jellyfish, one of their favorite foods. This can cause death by creating a blockage in their digestive tract or may cause them to starve to death. Younger turtles are more vulnerable to plastic bags since they are not as discerning about their food. The bags can also kill many other sea creatures over time since they take so long to disintegrate.

Another issue is microplastics. Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic that are less than 5 mm in length. Studies have estimated that there are 51 trillion microplastics in the ocean. These fragments of plastic are found in many human-made products, including hand soaps and even towels and clothing. They are also generated by floating plastic products as they break down over time. Plastic microparticles are being ingested by fish and other forms of sea life. These particles also become embedded in their flesh which is then eaten by humans.

What are some ways to help eliminate plastic in the water?

There are many ways that you can help stop plastic waste’s effect on marine life. Much of the plastic in the ocean begins in roadside ditches, small streams, and rivers. You can volunteer at a local clean up day or clean up roadside litter and trash on your own. Making sure to send your plastic trash to a recycling program is another great option. You can also choose clothing and towels made with natural fibers.

Other methods of containing and controlling plastic waste include using containment booms or barriers to deflect or collect it. A new type of containment boom is also being developed that uses plastic bottles found on the roadside as floats. You could also use a trash collection device like the Elastec Brute Bin in areas where there is good water flow. In protected waterways and harbors a trash skimmer boat like the Elastec Omni Catamaran could be deployed. To learn more about these methods you can contact us today.