Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Trawl of Red Sea surface waters finds little plastic

09.01.2018

Researchers are mapping global patterns of marine plastic pollution as alarm grows over floating rubbish. A team led by marine scientist Carlos Duarte from KAUST shows that the level of plastic debris in the Red Sea is relatively low.

Samples of floating plastic rubbish were collected by the team from 120 sites along 1500km of shoreline on the eastern margin of the Red Sea during voyages in 2016-2017. The debris was captured in plankton nets dragged slowly just below the sea surface and the fragments were then painstakingly sorted into material type and size.


A raw sample before sorting, showing one piece of blue plastic.

Credit: © 2017 Cecilia Martin

Three-quarters of the collected rubbish was rigid fragments of broken objects. Plastic film, such as bags or wrapping, made up 17% percent, but there were only small amounts of fishing lines or nets (6%) and foam (4%).

The relatively low levels of floating plastic in the Red Sea may either be due to there being fewer sources of rubbish or its faster removal, explains doctoral student, Cecilia Martin. Not much plastic comes from the land because this coastline has few of the usual polluting contributors.

"Usually the main source of plastic in the sea tends to be litter and mismanaged waste," says Martin. "But on this coastline, the only large human settlement is Jeddah, with a population of 2.8 million people, and little tourism, so there are few people with the opportunity to litter." Similarly, rivers globally provide 10-50% of discarded oceanic plastic, but because the Red Sea catchment has no permanent rivers, their contribution is negligible.

"Instead, the winds and a few storms are most probably the main sources of plastic," says Martin. "This is reflected in our findings of proportionally higher amounts of plastic films compared to global trends."

There is a concern, however, says Martin, about the "missing" plastic. The low levels of debris can be partially attributed to its "'removal" by the extensive mangrove and coral reef systems of the area. Capture of plastics is problematic for these ecosystems.

"Mangroves are perfect traps for macrolitter," says Martin. "At high tide, floating items reach the forest and then, as the tide drops, get stuck in seedlings and mangrove aerial roots (pneumatophores) which act as a mesh to trap them."

Coral ecosystems can also consume plastic. "The small size of microplastic items makes it available to a wide range of organisms and many marine groups, such as corals, mollusks, crabs and plankton are found to ingest plastic."

Duarte says the problem of plastic pollution in the ocean reflects our consumer habits and the solution is to reduce plastic use in our daily lives.

Carolyn Unck | EurekAlert!

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

Im Focus: Stronger evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning

The Atlantic overturning – one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards – is weaker today than any time before in more than 1000 years. Sea surface temperature data analysis provides new evidence that this major ocean circulation has slowed down by roughly 15 percent since the middle of the 20th century, according to a study published in the highly renowned journal Nature by an international team of scientists. Human-made climate change is a prime suspect for these worrying observations.

“We detected a specific pattern of ocean cooling south of Greenland and unusual warming off the US coast – which is highly characteristic for a slowdown of the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New capabilities at NSLS-II set to advance materials science

18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Strong carbon fiber artificial muscles can lift 12,600 times their own weight

18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Polymer-graphene nanocarpets to electrify smart fabrics

18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>