We all know the term microplastics but what actually are they and where do they come from?
Plastics are excessively made and well outlive their original purpose, making plastic waste incredibly abundant and persistent in all environments. Once it has entered the waterways being either fresh or marine, it is incredibility unlikely that it will ever fully exit. That’s because plastic is extremely long lived and even when it breaks down it’s still a major threat.
Microplastics are tiny little fragments of plastics most invisible to the naked eye. It can already be this size when they enter the water, for example microbeads, plastic pellets and even microfibers from clothing like polyester. Microplastics can also be created by the breakdown of any larger plastic items including plastic bags, fishing nets and polystyrene.
Even though they are tiny little fragments, microplastics are a massive concern. It is extremely dangerous to any animals that live of plankton, as they easily mistake the tiny plastic as plankton. Many filter feeding animals, like baleen whales, manta, and whale sharks cannot selectively feed. Meaning when they open their big mouths they cannot control what they are eating, the consumption of microplastics is a very real threat. Studies are also being done showing that microplastics can be passed up the food chain. Once a marine animal has plastic in its system it’s very hard to get rid of. If a larger fish preys on a smaller fish that has ingested plastic, then that plastic is highly likely to be found in that larger fish. Guess who eats those larger fish, that’s right humans!
This is why it’s so important that we try to reduce as much of our single use plastic as possible. It is the only way, stop using plastic. Otherwise it will come back to haunt us, along with killing many species in the process!