Archive for SEAPLEX
www.sciencedaily.com 1st July 2011
A research trip put together by two students at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography has found that over 9% of fish sampled in the area of the North Pacific called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch have ingested plastic. The Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (SEAPLEX) travelled across the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, which stretches between the North East Asian coast and western North America and sampled a total of 141 fish from 27 species. Based on the figure of 9.2% of sampled fish had plastic in their stomachs, the authors of the study, Peter Davidson and Rebecca Asch, went on to calculate that fish in the “intermediate levels of the North Pacific ingest plastic at a rate of roughly 12,000- to 24,000 tons per year.” Most of the plastic pieces were smaller than a human fingernail and many were too small for their original purpose to be determined. Furthermore, the study’s authors believe that the 9.2% is an underestimate as some fish may regurgitate plastic pieces, they may pass through the body, or a fish may die from eating it. It is impossible to measure these exceptions. SEAPLEX put down 132 net tows (130 came up with plastic) across a distance of 1,700 miles of the North Pacific. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not, as is commonly thought, an island of human waste but rather it is ‘highly dispersed’ and therefore impossible to map from satellite or plane. For this reason, research on the matter is still relatively young.