Arctic Waste

Do you ever wonder where, or how far plastics travel through the world’s vast oceans? At this point we should have an understanding of the garbage patch within the Pacific Ocean. Aside from the massive garbage patch, what about all of the waste from fishing? Well, according to the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine research (AWI), plastic microparticles have already been found frozen in the Arctic Ocean.

Photo Credit: Copyright Alfred-Wegener-Institut/Tristan Vankann

Ice samples from the Arctic held 12,000 microplastic particles per liter of ice. The particles found are small enough for microorganisms to eat. The amount of harm the plastic particles have on the wildlife is unknown at this time. With the climate changing and the ice melting, more of these particles are being released from the ice back into the water.
What can we do? Well, since much of the plastic came from the Pacific Ocean’s garbage patch. There are also traces of plastic based chemicals such as: polyethylene, polypropylene, paints, nylon, polyester, and cellulose acetate. Things such as paint from fishing vessels, cigarette butts are some of the sources of the chemicals listed. Thus, to answer the question, it’s a matter of picking up after ourselves. Put cigarettes out in the garbage, properly dispose or reuse your plastics. The more conscious we are about the simple things, the faster our sea life will have a chance to recover.

(AFP Photo/Stefan HENDRICKS)