Plastic pollution in sea reaches dangerous levels
Adding a new threat to the list of pollution, it has been found that Plastic pollution in the sea is reaching at a threatening level off the coast of Pacific Northwest. The situation is at the par with alarmingly polluted North Sea.
University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers examined stomach contents of beached northern fulmars on the coasts of British Columbia, Canada, and the states of Washington and Oregon to reach to this conclusion.
"Like the canary in the coal mine, northern fulmars are sentinels of plastic pollution in our oceans," Stephanie Avery-Gomm, graduate student of zoology at the UBC, and lead of the study has been quoted as saying as per the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin reports.
"Their stomach content provides a 'snapshot' sample of plastic pollution from a large area of the northern Pacific Ocean," said Avery-Gomm, according to an UBC statement.
Northern fulmars forage exclusively at sea and retain ingested plastics for a long period of time. So these are perfect indicators for marine littering. These beached fulmars are analyzed and results used to monitor plastic pollution in the North Sea since the 1980s.
The research findings, when compared to previous studies of same kind, indicate toward a significant increase in plastic pollution over the past four decades.
As a part of the study the research group performed necropsies on 67 beached northern fulmars and reached at the conclusion that 92.5 percent had plastics 96 such as twine, Styrofoam and candy wrappers 96 in their stomach. An average of 36.8 pieces per bird was found. The average total weight of plastic was 0.385 grams per bird. One bird was found with 454 pieces of plastic in its stomach.
"The average adult northern fulmar weighs five pounds, or 2.25 kilograms," Avery-Gomm has been quoted as saying..
"While 0.385 grams in a bird may seem inconsequential to us, it's the equivalent of about five percent of their body mass. It would be like a human carrying 50 grams of plastic in our stomach."
"Despite the close proximity of the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch,' an area of concentrated plastic pollution in the middle of the North Pacific gyre, plastic pollution has not been considered an issue of concern off our coast," Avery-Gomm added.
--with inputs from IANS
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