Remote South Atlantic Islands Are Flooded With Plastic (smithsonianmag.com)

Thirty years ago, the ocean waters surrounding British islands in the South Atlantic were near-pristine. But plastic waste has increased a hundredfold since then, and is ten times greater than it was a decade ago. From a report: The islands of the British Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic, including St. Helena, East Falkland, and Ascension Island, are so tiny and remote that most people don’t even realize they exist. For centuries, that kept them relative clean and pristine, but in recent decades discarded straws, fishing nets, and millions of bits of degraded plastic have begun washing up on their shores. Now, reports Marlene Cimons at Nexus Media, that pollution is getting even worse. A new study in the journal Current Biology shows that plastic trash on the beaches and in the ocean has increased tenfold in the just the last decade and a hundredfold over the last three decades.

During four research cruises between 2013 and 2018, researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and nine other organizations aboard the RMS James Clark Ross sought to quantify the plastic around the islands. The crew took samples of marine debris from the water’s surface, the water column, the seabed and the beaches. They also investigated plastic ingestion in 2,243 animals comprised of 26 different species ranging across the marine food web from plankton to apex predators, like seabirds; all were found to consume plastic at high rates. What they found was plastic, and lots of it. About 90 percent of all the contaminants they analyzed were made of plastic, which abundant in the ocean, on the beach and inside the animals.

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