A new study published in PLOS ONE scientific journal shows that the plastic debris floating on our oceans surface can be estimated to 5.25 trillion particles that weight 268,940 tons. However, researchers say that the figures are not exact since mankind throws into the sea about 3 million tons of plastic every year.
Dr. Marcus Eriksen, one of the authors of the study, said that if we were to transform the nearly 270,000 tons of plastic debris into 2 liter plastic bottles and stack them end-to-end to the moon and back, we would have enough material to do it twice. In other words, about 6 billion plastic bottles unhindered float on our planetary seas and oceans.
Nevertheless, the National Academy of Sciences estimates that about 300 million tons of plastic is produced every year and 0.10 percent of it gets into our oceans, so there is way more out there.
Researchers say that the rest of the plastic gets trapped into gyres that pulverize it while ocean currents ferry it to remote locations.
Gyres are a ring-shaped collection of ocean currents that have a spiral motion. These currents act like watery vortexes that attract and crush more than a third of all marine debris. For example gyres can easily smash a 20-pound plastic buoy a shred it into minuscule pieces.
Scientists say that the plastic material fished out of gyres was not larger than a grain of sand or rice. This means that any fish or marine creature can swallow it. So, a large part of the plastic in our oceans ends up in marine creatures’ belly. Researchers say that this poses a health threat to humans that will later eat marine food.
Other part of the marine plastic waste either sinks, after gyres did their job, either gets transported by the great oceanic conveyor belt. This conveyor belt transports vital oxygen and nutrients throughout all the planetary oceans, but now it has become the main means of transport for plastic waste taking it to far but also deep locations.
Dr Eriksen said he had found micro particles of plastic (microplastics) in 90 percent of the water samples he gathered from sub polar waters. Also, he has found plastic sediments at deep-sea level.
However, researchers are optimistic. They say that this was a reversible phenomenon and the world seems to steadily enter the Age of Restoration by banning single-use plastic bags. Dr Eriksen said that it was not too late to stop abusing oceans and let them dispel all the garbage and heal.