Plastic oceans

In a report published in the journal Science, a team of Japanese researchers described a species of bacteria that can break the molecular bonds of one of the world’s most-used plastics - polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or polyester.
In a report published in the journal Science, a team of Japanese researchers described a species of bacteria that can break the molecular bonds of one of the world’s most-used plastics - polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or polyester.

Plastic-eating bacteria to the rescue?

Plastic pollution is a gigantic problem. Our beaches and waters are littered with plastic, marine life ingests it or gets ensnared and particles are entering our food web and organisms. Microplastics are everywhere now.

Saccharina latissima,
Saccharina latissima, also known by the common name sugar kelp, Saccharina latissima is an ecologically important system. It is a primary producer, delivering plant material to the coastal food web. Can it also replace plastic?

Can seaweed replace plastic?

More and more alternatives to plastics are being proposed these days, as the world wakes up to the immense “longevity” of single-use plastics.

One of these alternatives—seaweed—is the focus of Notpla, a London-based startup that has developed packaging that is designed to be composted, dissolved or consumed after use.

The decision to use seaweed was made after considering that it was abundant, grew fast, sequestered carbon from the air and did not require pesticides.

Plastics comprises 84 percent of Australia's beach debris

As much as 84 percent of the rubbish found on Australian beaches in the past ten years is plastic.

Almost half of all the debris originates from land-based sources (littering, dumping on land, etc), and seven percent from dumping activities at sea.

The remaining 42 percent could not be traced to a specific source as they had broken down into smaller fragments, which would eventually become microplastics.

Howard Johnson, Anilao Scuba Dive Centre, Shala Caliao, scuba diving news, PPE, COVID-19, face masks, plastic pollution, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, X-Ray Mag, XRay Magazine, Philippines
Polymeric materials used in face masks can be a potential source of plastic and break down into microplastic pollution.

Abandoned face masks found on Philippine reef

The popular dive spot is southeast of the Philippine capital, Manila.

BBC Philippine correspondent Howard Johnson joined dive professionals from Anilao Scuba Dive Centre as they resumed diving, following the national lockdown. The dive centre is affiliated to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Green Fins, which promotes sustainable marine tourism in South-East Asia.

Turtles and plastic bags
Plastics floating in the ocean build a coating of algae and microorganisms that smells edible to turtles.

Why do sea turtles eat plastic? Perhaps because it smells good

To understand sea turtle behavior around ocean plastics, the research team compared how sea turtles in a lab setting reacted to smelling odors of turtle food, ocean-soaked plastic, clean plastic and water.

The turtles ignored the scents of clean plastic and water, but responded to the odors of food and ocean-soaked plastics by showing foraging behavior. This included poking their noses out of the water repeatedly as they tried to smell the food source, and increasing their activity as they searched.

NOC hosts Marine Plastic Pollution Talk

On 10 May 2018 David Jones will be talking on "Marine Plastic Pollution: How did we get here and what can we do about it?"

Plastic pollution is undoubtedly one of the biggest environmental issues we face at the moment. Plastic has only been in our lives for around seventy years, so how did we get to where we are, what went wrong? More importantly, what can we do about it?" David Jones.