The world’s biggest dump is the ocean and most of the trash that ends up there is non-biodegradable plastic. And because of ocean currents, most of it washes up in one small part of the world: a tiny island in the Pacific ocean. Plastic trash in the ocean may be leaching toxic chemicals that affect the entire food chain, including the fish we eat. Matt Brown of US Fish and Wildlife says, “The thing that’s most worrisome about the plastic is its tenaciousness, its durability. It’s not going to go away in my lifetime or my children’s lifetimes. The plastic washing up on the beach today?if people don’t take it away it’ll still be here when my grandchildren walk these beaches.”
2 million albatrosses live on the coral atoll of Midway?and almost nowhere else, since they are an endangered species. Almost one third of the albatross chicks die from being fed plastic by their parents. In BBC News, David Shukman writes, “I watched as the deputy manager of the wildlife refuge here, Matt Brown, opened the corpse of one albatross and found inside it the handle of a toothbrush, a bottle top and a piece of fishing net. He explained how some chicks never develop the strength to fly off the islands to search for food because their stomachs are filled with plastic.”
Another BBC News article reports Shukman quotes researcher Richard Thompson as saying, “We know that plastics in the marine environment will accumulate and concentrate toxic chemicals from the surrounding seawater and you can get concentrations several thousand times greater than in the surrounding water on the surface of the plastic. Now there’s the potential for those chemicals to be released to those marine organisms if they then eat the plastic.” This could eventually poison the fish we eat.
Art credit: gimp-savvy.com
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