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Big Problem for the Food Chain: Tiny Plankton Snacking on Plastic

Source: CNET/Michelle Starr - July 8, 2015 in Environment

Big Problem for the Food Chain: Tiny Plankton Snacking on Plastic
Photo: NOAA

The effect of plastic microbeads — found in toothpaste and exfoliants — on microscopic marine life is unknown. But thanks to filmmaker Verity White, we can clearly see that zooplankton are ingesting the microbeads along with their normal diet of phytoplankton.

The footage is part of a six-minute film from Five Films called “Ren Kyst – Got a Spare Afternoon?” about litter and coastal cleanups that late last month won the Atkins CIWEM Environmental Film of the Year from the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management in the UK.

An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic makes its way into the oceans every year, according to a study from the UC Santa Barbara National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, published in the journal Science this year. Somewhere between 6,350 and 245,000 metric tons of that plastic is floating — which means the rest of it ends up somewhere beneath the surface.

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Video Credit: Bo Eide

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