Photograph: © SAF
Large quantities of globally produced plastics end up in the oceans where they represent a growing risk.
Above all very small objects, so-called microplastic particles, are endangering the lives of the many sea creatures. An estimate of how greatly the oceans are polluted with microplastic particles has so far failed in the absence of globally comparable methods of investigation and data.
Together with British and Chilean colleagues, scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association have now analysed all published studies on this topic and have proposed standardised guidelines for the recording and characterisation of microplastic particles in the sea.
Plastic bottles washed on to the beach are as much a part of the coast as the sound of seagulls. What the eye does not see are the innumerable ultra-small plastic objects which float in the water, are washed on to the beach or settle on the sea bed. The majority of microplastic particles are smaller than a grain of sand or the tip of a needle. It is this property that also makes them so dangerous to the sea dwellers…