Elitza Germanoc is a microbiologist turned marine scientist. As a scuba diver she could not help but observe that plastic pollution was seemingly everywhere. This has led to a career in research at the Marine Megafund Foundation and to her project called Microplastics and Megafauna. Read on and discover how Elitza determined that plastic pollution is bad news for filter feeders.
“When I learned that plastic doesn’t degrade, but instead breaks up into smaller pieces, I was concerned about large filter feeding animals that are likely unable to distinguish small plastics from their food. My research brought me to Indonesia and the Philippines, where the issue of marine plastics is most pressing. Not only are there vast amounts of marine debris, but these countries coincidentally border the world’s most biodiverse marine region, the Coral Triangle.” (photo – Elitza Germanoc)
Filter feeders don’t distinguish between food and Mmicroplastics”
“I study large filter feeding fish, mostly mobulid rays and whale sharks. To feed, these animals take in large quantities of seawater through a specialized filtering structure in their mouths. This filter allows them to keep small nutritious animals, such as zooplankton, fish eggs and larvae, and dispel excess water.” But unfortunately, they cannot differentiate normal food from microplastics. (photo – Elitza Germanoc)
“Over time, exposure to microplastics and toxins will amplify as these compounds become entrenched in food webs.
Can we change the bad news by altering bad habits?
Elitza suggests, “Reduce your use of items such as plastic drink bottles, plastic bags, plastic takeaway containers, plastic or Styrofoam coffee cups, plastic drinking straws and cigarettes. Volunteer in a local cleanup. Also, consider contributing to conservation and research projects with a donation” See all of Elitza’s article by Tess Krasne in Ocean Conservancy.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
Plus these additional, related Blue Ocean Posts on Plastic Pollution:
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