Floating plastic threat to Med Sea ecology and tourism

The Mediterranean Sea has an estimated 1,000 tonnes of bags, wrappings and bottles floating in it.

Birds, fish and other animals now eating plastic parts floating in the Mediterranean Sea Birds, fish and other animals now eating plastic parts floating in the Mediterranean Sea

Birds, fish and other animals now eating plastic parts floating in the Mediterranean Sea Image by Ingrid Taylar

Scientists are  now worried that the plastic pollutants will be particularly harmful to the sea’s biological richness and economic importance as a tourist haven.

Researchers in Spain have found bits of plastic in the stomach of birds, fish, turtles and whales while minute pieces of plastic have been found in oysters and mussels grown on the coasts of Northern Europe, the BBC reports.

Andres Cozar of the University of Cadiz in Puerto Real, Spain, said the Med had become “a great accumulation zone of plastic debris”.

Marine pollution is now a planetary problem despite the fact that plastic materials are only half a century in widespread use, making it crucial to come up with urgent management strategies.

Dr Cozar said that because of the biological wealth and concentration of economic activities around this water, the effects of plastic pollution was especially relevant on marine and human life.

Dr David Morritt of Royal Holloway, University of London, explained how there was now particular concern over very small pieces of plastic.

The study found that 80% of items called microplastics found in the Mediterranean Sea were less than 5mm in length.

Dr Morritt told BBC News that these small fragments could be swallowed by several marine species and this raised the danger of releasing chemicals into the gut. As plastic didn’t degrade in the environment, it made it important that we dispose of it properly by recycling or even reducing its use, he added.

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