Plastic Islands Impact the Ecosystem
Plastic Islands Impact the Ecosystem
  • 진하은 기자
  • 승인 2017.10.30 09:00
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Ship accidents have been reported frequently in recent years. About 10% of marine vessel accidents are caused by marine litter, which is gradually increasing. Why has the sea of the earth become a huge waste disposal site?

Emissions of garbage by ship operations increased due to frequent long distance movements. When people live in a narrow space, there are many cases where they throw dirt in the sea. Since the Industrial Revolution, mankind has created a variety of chemicals, which soon became a huge pile of waste and were dumped into the sea.

In particular, there are a lot of plastics in the ocean and they do not rot. This accounts for 90% of marine litter. These abandoned pieces of plastic wander in waves and gathered in certain areas.

Charles Moore, an American who participated in a yacht race in Hawaii in 1997, faced a huge pile of plastic garbage in the middle of the North Pacific. It was a discovery of a so-called 'Plastic Island.' Since then, these "islands" have been discovered, and it is known that there are at least three huge dense areas in the North Pacific.

Plastic makes up 90% of the composition of these plastic islands. It is known to be huge and thick enough to be seen by satellites. It may not be a big deal if they just keep floating. Plastics Island is huge. But this is in the middle of the non-human North Pacific, so it might be okay if you only pay attention to the ships passing by. But this problem is not so simple.

These plastic islands cause ecosystem disturbances. Sea birds suffer from swallowing plastic pieces and whales eating nets is frequently reported on the news. The more serious problem is the smaller pieces of plastic rather than the bigger ones. Plastics are not degraded by microorganisms, but they can drift in the ocean for many years and become shredded by physical shocks when exposed to sunlight. These finely crumbled microplastics are then mistaken for food by many marine creatures.

Fish eat small crustaceans or plaques. When microplastics are mistaken for food and ingested, they are not digested and they accumulate in the body. They are eaten by predators and eventually spread throughout the ecosystem. In other words, 'plastic poisoning' occurs from the inside, which ultimately has a devastating effect on the marine ecosystem.

If the marine ecosystem, which accounts for 70% of the Earth's surface, is disturbed, its impact will eventually spread globally. At this time, another plastic pile is being added on the North Pacific Ocean. Plastic products that we use may accelerate its speed.

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