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The Effects of Plastic Pollution on the Pacific Ocean

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Mugunthan Arun Thangavel

on 10 December 2013

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Transcript of The Effects of Plastic Pollution on the Pacific Ocean

The Effects of
Plastic Pollution

on the
Pacific Ocean

"Made to last forever, designed to throw away"
Anna Cummins

Thank You for listening,

we are happy to answer any questions and hear any thoughts you may have.
Research Question:
What are the effects of plastic pollution on species of the Pacific Ocean?


It is estimated that there is 100 million tonnes of rubbish in the North Pacific Gyre.
The various marine species living here are at great risk due to the plastic pollution
There is evidence to prove they are digesting plastic particles as well as it having a knock-on effect on the food chain.
Up to date academic journals and e-books.
News articles to understand the effects.
Mind maps and other decision making techniques.
Planktivorous Fish
The Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Sea Birds
On British coastlines in the North Sea, a study of fulmars found that
95 percent
of the seabirds had plastic in their stomachs, with an average of
44 pieces per bird
. A proportional amount
in a human being would weigh nearly five pounds
a million seabirds
1 000 000
have been killed by human waste!
For example, a turtle in the North Pacific got caught in a six-pack ring as they were not carefully disposed of. Due to this, the turtle had become stuck and as it grew over the years, it deformed the shape of the shell.
Turtles can mistake tiny particles of plastic as their normal food due to the size and shape being similar to their normal food source filter fish, such as crustaceans.

It has been estimated that over 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles are killed each year in the North Pacific Gyre.

This affects their ability to swim and travel to other areas meaning reduction in availability of living food.
Caretta Caretta
Cause starving
: Seabirds mistake plastics for food. But plastics do not supply nutrient!

Trap birds
: unable to move, cannot hunt, cannot flee from predators

: swallows more than it could take, the waste blocks its windpipe

: Plastic pillet have high concentration of DDT, PCBs, egg shells thinning, broken eggs, breeding failure
Plankton is the main food resource for many fish species
Plastic - new type of 'food' for these species as the plastic is mistaken for real food sources
In the North Pacific Ocean, the ratio of
plastic to plankton
was up to
, data calculated by the trawl method, using a plankton collector from the back of a boat.
, the ratio had increased to
Planktivorous fish, are species which feed primarily on plankton as their main food source.

The ingestion of plastic debris, mainly plastic spherules occurs where plastic is mistaken for plankton and other food sources.

The ingestion of plastic debris by small fish , can reduce food uptake, cause internal injury and death following blockage of intestinal tract.
More than 1/3 of the planktivorours fish examined from a sample in the north Pacific had ingested some size of plastic.
Harse, G. A., 2011. Plastic, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and International Misfires at a Cure [article] (pp. 331).

Doucette, K., 2009. AN OCEAN OF PLASTIC. Rolling Stone, (1090), 54-57.
Smith-Teutsch, A., 2010. Garbage gyres. Waste & Recycling News, 15 (21), 26-21NULL
Some plastics float on the surface, blocking sunlight from reaching plankton and algae below.
What is the problem?
This curvature of the winds due to the earth rotation is known as the Coriolis effect. This coupled with trade winds lead to continual circular patterns of wind flowing clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

These circular wind patterns create spiral ocean currents called gyres.

On Midway Atoll island near to the North Pacific Gyre, the Albatross flourishes.
Give birth to about 500,000 chicks every year.
Almost 200,000 chicks die
Being fed plastic by their parents, which have mistaken plastic as food.
Altogether, a million birds and marine animals suffer the same fate each year after consuming such plastic objects.

How do the Gyres work?
The North Pacific Gyre
Source of plastics
Plastic debris can be divided into two categories:
macro, >5 mm, micro, <5 mm

It is estimated that
from the land:
post-consumer waste
enter via streams, rivers and by air, with a little help from wind

from on or in the sea:
broken buoys, abandoned trawling nets from fisheries, cargos from
ships, waste things from offshore oil or gas platforms

" the world's largest landfill"

Many forms of plastic from polycarbonate to polypropylene. They can either float on top of the water or sink.

Objects such as disposable cutlery, CD’s, sunglasses and packing materials such as foam sink and break down over time.

Objects such as plastic bags, containers, car parts, food and drink packaging as well as tinted materials float and get broken down by sunlight and wave exposure. However, in the mean time they can cause serious damage to the species involved.
Investigations have taken place, one where out of 100 pieces of plastic surveyed, 80% of them were covered in peck marks.
There are many impacts to the plastic pollution in the pacific ocean, many of them being very detrimental to the life that resides there. The indirect impacts being the blocking of sunlight. To the direct impacts of ingestion, entanglement, smothering, and even the more discrete impacts such as the bioaccumulation of chemicals.

These impact are killing the flora and fauna of the pacific ocean and a solution needs to be implemented, a problem which we created without even knowing if left unaltered could drastically change the environment of our oceans for the worst
What is the Solution?
The initial point of mitigating this problem is reduction, reducing the amount of plastic which we throw away and increasing the amount we recycle will be the cornerstone of solving this problem
"be the change you seek", the limiting of plastic pollution will have to ascend from a grassroots level, from homes and school, all the way to multi-national companies everyone need to take initiative.
Our capacity to come up with smarter approaches, ideas, and materials is limitless. Businesses must continue reinventing the way we make and consume our products.
Responsible legislation creates opportunity for these alternatives. Steel water bottles and cloth grocery bags, biodegradable plastics and green chemistry, closed loop product lifecycles – these innovations and reinventions move us towards a more sustainable society, where the concept of “waste” has no place.
Recovery begins on land,
Cleaning up plastic pollution from the world’s oceans is impractical. Our communities manage waste with landfills and recovery centers, screens on storm drains and nets across rivers, but these post-consumer solutions are expensive to taxpayers.
Images showing the plastic inside the Albatross Carcases
We must manage production and recovery of plastic responsibly through legislation. Bans and fees on disposable plastics are working to protect people and the environment worldwide. legislation will force businesses to take responsibility economically for their contribution to the problem.
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