Marine Debris

Pathogens Can Hitch a Ride on Plastic to Reach the Sea

Microplastics are a pathway for pathogens on land to reach the ocean, with likely consequences for human and wildlife health, according to a study from the University of California, Davis.

The study, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, is the first to connect microplastics in the ocean with land-based pathogens. It found that microplastics can make it easier for disease-causing pathogens to concentrate in plastic-contaminated areas of the ocean.

Encountering the Marine Debris Crisis in Indonesia

I took in a deep breath then let it out quickly as I approached the group of middle schoolers gathered around a single desk.

I blurted out, “Apa kabar?” One of my few memorized Bahasa Indonesia greetings.

Half a dozen young faces turned towards me.  There was a brief pause before they shrilly responded,

“Biiiiiaaak!!” and promptly collapsed into a pile of laughter.

Why Do Seabirds Eat Plastic? The Answer Stinks 

If it smells like food, and looks like food, it must be food right?

Not in the case of ocean-faring birds that are sometimes found with bellies full of plastic. But very little research examines why birds make the mistake of eating plastic in the first place.

To learn exactly what marine plastic debris smells like, the scientists put beads made of the three most common types of plastics debris --- high-desnty polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, and poly-propylene--- into the ocean at Monterey Bay and Bodega Bay, off the California coast. 

Our fish comes with a side order of debris

Roughly a quarter of the fish sampled from fish markets in California and Indonesia contained man-made debris — plastic or fibrous material — in their guts, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, and Hasanuddin University in Indonesia.

By Kat Kerlin for University of California News

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