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Researchers: Ocean Garbage Gyre Impacting Sea Life

Increase in plastic debris floating in a zone between Hawaii and California An increase in plastic debris floating in a zone between Hawaii and California is changing the environment of at least one marine critter, scientists reported.Over the past four decades, the amount of broken-down plastic has grown significantly in a region dubbed the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." Most of the plastic pieces are the size of a fingernail.During a seagoing expedition, researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that a marine insect that skims the ocean surface is laying its eggs on top of plastic bits instead of natural flotsam like wood and seashells.Though plastic debris is giving the insects places to lay eggs, scientists are concerned about the manmade material establishing a role in their habitat."This is something that shouldn't be in the ocean and it's changing this small aspect of the ocean ecology," said Scripps graduate student Miriam Goldstein.The finding will be published online Wednesday in Biology Letters, a journal of Britain's Royal Society.Goldstein led a group of researchers who traveled 1,000 miles off the California coast in August 2009 to document the impacts of the garbage on sea life. For three weeks, they collected marine ...

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Plastic Pollution in the Oceans is Causing Problems

For Whales, too Every year, humans consume 70 million tons of seafood. Though this is an astonishing volume-one that has aserious impact on ocean populations-it cannot compare to sperm whales which consumer more than 100 million tons of seafood annually. Most of this consists of squid and small fish but-increasingly-plastic trash is making its way into the whales' diet as well.Sperm whales, specifically, have been identified as one of the most intelligent species in the ocean-if not on the planet. They posses the largest brains of any known animal-living or extinct-and use sounds and sonar to communicate with one another,organize into social groups, and evenidentify individuals by name.The cosmopolitan species has found great success and managed to establish itself in all of the world's oceans and many of the major seas. One of the keys to this success is their ability to dive deep below the surface-with some dropping nearly two miles-to find food. Even so, they have not been able to escape the scourge of ocean plastic pollution that has also impacted fish, turtles, and birds.Though hunting of sperm whales has been regulated since just after WWII, threats like pollution continue to threaten the species. The problem with ocean ...

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Filmmaker sounds alarm over ocean of plastic

Over the past year he has been following the menace of plastic On Midway atoll in the North Pacific, dozens of young albatross lie dead on the sand, their stomachs filled with cigarette lighters, toy soldiers and other small plastic objects their parents have mistaken for food.That sad and surreal sight, says Hong Kong-based Australian film director Craig Leeson, is one of the manysymptoms of a plague afflicting the world's oceans, food chains and human communities: the onslaught of discarded plastic."Every piece of plastic ever made since the fifties exists in some shape or form on the planet," Leeson told AFP. "We throw plastic into a bin, it's taken away from us and we never see it again -- but it still comes back at us."Over the past year, Leeson has been following the menace of plastic from Sardinia to Canada to the Indian Ocean for a film that aims to combine the art of nature documentary with a campaigning quest.Provisionally called "Away", the film -- backed by David Attenborough and the UK-based Plastic Oceans Foundation -- brings together new research on the spread of plastic with missions by "explorers" such as Ben Fogle to show the diverse effects of ...

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