Friday, August 16, 2019

Phillip Elden | Microplastics and Their Impact on The Ocean’s Inhabitants

Phillip Elden
What are microplastics, and how are they affecting the environment? Phillip Elden answers this question and more in the following brief QA.

Q: What are microplastics?

Phillip Elden: This is the name given to the tiny shards of plastic that slough off larger pieces as bottles, bags, and other plastics degrade over time. Each year, the volume of microplastics increases. Today, estimates put more than 51 trillion particles in our oceans.

Q: Are microplastics dangerous?

Phillip Elden: Yes. Sadly, these sometimes microscopic particles can cause serious issues in any animal that ingests them. Some marine creatures mistake microplastics as an easy meal. Aside from being void of all nutritional value, they also contain poisons that can cause disease and prevent reproduction. If animals can’t propagate their species, we risk losing much of the aquatic diversity that we hold dear.

Q: What is ghost gear?

Phillip Elden: Ghost gear is simply items like fishing nets and line that have been carelessly tossed into the ocean. Both large fishing operations and individual anglers are at fault for leaving behind these and other pieces of gear, such as lures and hooks. Like microplastics, and contributing to the volume of it, ghost gear is actively harming wildlife across the globe.

Q: Can anything be done about these issues?

Phillip Elden: The only thing that can stop the widespread problem is to clean up the ocean and stop leaving waste behind. Through recycling and proper disposal, we can begin to return the ocean to its former state. It is not an overnight job, however, and there are many organizations worldwide that have tried to initiate clean ocean programs. It takes more than just a few well-meaning individuals, making it happen is an effort that every human must get behind.