Remember the yellow plastic ducks that your mom used to give you to play with while bathing you? Those may become the only ducks to survive after a few years. Marine plastic pollution has become an issue of great concern having affected over 260 species worldwide.
In the early 1990s, the usage of plastic bags had increased to over 100 times and with it, plastic debris also increased. As a result of plastic pollution, 86% of sea turtles, 44% of seabirds, and 43% of all sea creatures were affected, having died out of starvation, suffocation, drowning, infection, and entanglement. People started noticing dead whales and sea animals lining up on the shores with umpteen amounts of plastic stuck in their stomachs. If this did not make things worse, plastic also started affecting the micro-level. Research has shown that microplastics are found almost everywhere, even in the seafood that’s served as food in our tables.
Marine plastic pollution has certainly become an issue too huge to ignore. Amanda Dwyer, a graduate student from Northeastern University, studied the waters of Bocas del Toro, Panama, to know more about the coral and zooplankton relationship. Upon study, she found that the coral gained its vibrant colour from microscopic cells that live inside the corals. With the increase in heat due to plastic pollution, the symbiosis done by zooxanthellae is failing, giving the corals a skeleton chalk colour which acts as a bleaching agent, putting the coral life at stake. After this research, the graduate from Northeastern University has taken the global challenge of removing plastic from the ocean. Amanda Dwyer aims to educate people more about the problems of marine plastic pollution. She hopes to have an impact that inculcates a passion in individuals which makes them take an action against this hazard and not just sit back and think about the problems.
Teena Rose Tom