Posts tagged with

microplastics

Bite Size Plastic: How Marine Wildlife Snack on Our Trash

Posted Mon, 06/22/2020 - 10:39

Millions of tons of debris enter the marine environment each year, including our trash and damaged fishing gear, and can be found at the surface of the water, down to the deepest parts of the ocean. Many marine debris items, especially plastics, are small enough to be ingested, or eaten, by wildlife, an issue of growing concern for the health of hundreds of marine animals. Animals may directly eat marine debris, or it may be consumed with prey that already has a belly full of marine debris.

What Do You Know About Talking Trash?

Posted Wed, 06/10/2020 - 09:50

People all over the world are concerned about marine debris and they would like to know more about it. The NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Communications Team responds to those questions we receive through email, and we’ve seen a trend. Following the National Ocean Services theme of Ocean Trivia for this week, we have created our own marine debris “trivia questions” that we hope you enjoy!

How Microplastics Travel in the Southern California Bight jennifer.simms Fri, 04/10/2020 - 12:06

Although plastic pollution is not a new phenomenon, concerns over the environmental and human health implications of microplastics, or plastic pieces less than 5 mm in size, has grown rapidly over the past decade. These concerns stem from their potential to be ingested by wildlife, accumulate in animal bodies, and transfer contaminants up the food chain, as well as their widespread presence in the environment.

Understanding the Movement of Microplastics in River Plumes jennifer.simms Fri, 04/10/2020 - 11:31

Microplastics in the ocean are a growing concern to both the scientific community and to the public at large. Much of the attention is focused on the garbage patches that can be found in oceanic gyres and  are thousands of miles from their largely urban sources. However, the amount of microplastics is often significantly higher in urban waterways than in these remote garbage patches.

Blue Crab Babies and Microplastics

Posted Fri, 04/03/2020 - 09:19

Microplastics, or plastic pieces smaller than 5mm in size, are commonly found in our ocean and coastal waters. Do the microplastics that these larval crabs encounter while drifting in the ocean affect their survival and ability to return to estuaries? With support from a NOAA Marine Debris Program Research grant, a team of University of Delaware marine scientists have joined forces to study this question.

Celebrating the New Year Glitter Free

Posted Mon, 12/30/2019 - 11:33

The holidays have arrived and that means party decorations and celebrations! Last week, the Marine Debris Program highlighted how to “green” your travel plans, how to create zero waste gifts and gift wrapping, and how to host and decorate for holiday parties that celebrate the Earth too. As we wrap up 2019, we have one more piece of celebration advice: try a glitter-free New Year.

On a Mission to Research Microplastics in the Mississippi River

Posted Wed, 07/03/2019 - 12:45

The growing tide of plastic debris in our ocean is partially due to the steady discharge of plastic by our rivers that drain into the sea. Plastics materials enter waterways from rural and urbanized areas located near riverbanks, and then travel downstream with the flow. Plastic comes in a variety of sizes and includes both macroplastics (large enough to be seen with the naked eye) and microplastics (not easily seen with the naked eye and are about 5 mm in size; about the size of a pencil eraser).

Clean Water for our HOMES

Posted Fri, 03/22/2019 - 09:42

Today is World Water Day, a day to recognize that water is our most precious resource, needed by every single living thing on earth. In the Great Lakes, over 40 million people depend directly on HOMES (Lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior) for drinking water. These lakes are the largest freshwater system on Earth and contain a fifth of the world’s water, adding up to more than 6 quadrillion gallons. Unfortunately, marine debris not only exists in our ocean, but can also be found in the Great Lakes and affect the quality of the water that we are drinking. Tiny plastics less than 5mm in size, called microplastics, dominate the waters of the Great Lakes. We don’t yet know how microplastics in our drinking water can affect human health, but we do know that preventing marine debris is a crucial step in improving the water quality of the Great Lakes.

The Smelly Science of Tracking the Movements of Microplastics alexis.thorbecke 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.