Wherein lies the boundary of plastic’s destructive potential? Are we capable enough to track the growing menace of the billions of tons of dumped plastic every year? Well if we think we have everything on the records, here’s one study to blow your minds off. This is the nail on the coffin to prove that we simply are clueless about the extent of plastic pollution. We are not aware of the blasphemous destruction we are inflicting with every careless step to use plastic each day.
The Shocking Fact!
According to a newly published research, we have got a shocking report on how deep rooted ocean plastic pollution is. Carried out by the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), the study has highlighted that deep sea creatures such as starfish, brittle stars (they can live as deep as a few thousand meters) have been feeding extensively on plastic particles for 40 years. Yes! You heard that right, for 4 decades.
A Walk Back to Where it All Started!
Let’s take a walk back into the history of plastics. Plastics were an accidental discovery in the early years of the past century. Scientists were particularly dumbfounded to see that the catenation effect of carbon (the ability of carbon to form unimaginably long chain compounds with its own self and bond with organic compounds such as nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon—the scientific phenomenon that actually makes life possible on this planet) could yield a new ‘wonder material’ called plastic. Within a few years, seemingly limitless types of plastic were yielded out of global laboratories and mass production of plastic for different industrial applications started during the 1940s and 1950s.
Into the Experiment’s Details
There’s a reason why this past look back was given. In the due course of the above research, scientists archived creature specimens from a depth of as low as 2000 metres in the Rockwall Trough of Western Isles. The amazing thing to note is that the specimens were collected between 1976 and 2015 (A span of almost 4 decades). And, shockingly, 8 different types of harmful plastic were found in the stomach of those creatures. Deep sea animals, at as low as 2000 metres, have been acquainted with plastic pollution within just 3 decades of mass plastic production. Just stop and wonder, with exponential rise of plastic dumping and usage now, what could be the reach of plastic pollution under the oceans. It is simply untraceable!
Going into details, the creatures were mainly starfishes, sea stars, brittle stars, and snails. And, their stomachs contained significant amounts of the plastic compounds—polyester and nylon. This research follows SAMS’ previous year comprehensive study that had compiled data from the Rockwall Trough to note that almost 50 percent of the sampled creatures had microplastics in them in significant amounts. Note that this was because fifty percent of the creatures contained microplastics in detectable amounts. It would be hard to imagine how many more creatures had plastic elements in them that were perhaps in undetectable amounts and hence couldn’t be taken up by the research group’s apparatus!
What Can ‘We’ Do? Such studies are absolutely shocking and crave for more extensive research in the same genre. The bigger takeaway point for the world’s researches would be—how much we still don’t know? A big chunk of the world’s oceans are simply out of reach of the modern scientific studies. Hence, it’s almost startling if we start correlating the rate of plastic waste dumping on oceans each day and the hints we are receiving from the ‘iceberg tip’ researches. What could lay hidden, what lurks behind doors, and how destructive would that be? Needless to say, if revealed one day that would be too frightening to bear! For us, commoners, the moment to only become aware, sit, and discuss has gone. We have to act, we need to fight, and we need to strip the planet off its plastic prison!
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