Monthly Archives February 2019

The Smelly Science of Tracking the Movements of Microplastics

Posted Wed, 02/06/2019 - 08:24

Where does plastic go once it enters the ocean? This is a harder question to answer than it may seem. When we think of plastic pollution, most of us think of large pieces of plastic floating at the surface of the ocean, but that’s only a piece of the puzzle. Plastic can be found at every depth in the ocean. Some of that plastic does float, but some drifts underwater, and some sinks all the way down to the ocean floor. It is especially hard to keep track of the smallest pieces of plastic, microplastics less than 5mm in size. Recent research is revealing that those microplastics are being moved not just by currents and weather, but by animals through their digestive tracts.