Waters Off B.C. Coast Awash in Plastic Particles

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“There is extensive contamination of sea water by micro-plastics,” confirmed Peter Ross, a former research scientist with the Federal Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney on Vancouver Island. “It raises the questions: where are they coming from and do they pose a threat to the food web?

Plastic is a solution that can be made for little money, it’s durable, and very versatile. In other words, it’s extremely tempting to use it and people today use a lot of it. According to the UN, “of the 300 million tons of plastic produced in the world each year about 6 million tons end up in the oceans.” Americans alone throw away approximately 35 billion plastic bottles per year.

According to the Director of a new ocean pollution program at the Vancouver Aquarium, after analyzing water samples from the coast of B.C. they found 9,200 particles of plastic per cubic meter! Micro-plastics, which are the size of a coffee ground, were found to increase in proximity to the mainland coast. On a personal note, I have seen this on remote beaches in Central America. Walking a dead quiet beach that looks pristine only to find with a closer look at the sand, small plastic particles mixed in from the high tide.

Related: 19 Year Old Has Feasible Plan to Clean Our Oceans of Plastic

Micro-plastic found in the ocean

Micro-plastic found in the ocean

Plastic never really goes away. Every piece of plastic ever made is still here today and will be for over a 1,000 years. Making 300,000 tons a year piles up quick. Where does it all go? We are now seeing where it goes. Much breaks down into small particles that is easily ingested by plankton, invertebrates and other marine life forming the base of the food chain. By ingesting the plastic, these organisms believe they are full and ultimately starve to death.

According to researchers, resident killer whales in the Salish Sea are the most polluted marine mammals on Earth. They also studied harbour seals as indicators of marine pollution, emerging threats such as flame retardants, hydrocarbons and pesticides, and the impact of pesticides on Fraser River sockeye salmon.

Here is the scary part. “The federal government put an axe to our efforts,” said Ross. “it’s kind of embarrassing. Canadians expect someone to be looking out for concerns in the ocean.” It our greatest natural resource. How can so called “leaders” who know nothing about the oceans or science make calls on the people’s behalf like that? It’s illogical.

In response, Ross was hired by the Vancouver Aquarium to head up the new ocean pollution program. “I am heartened that the aquarium has stepped up to the plate.” said Ross.

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