BBC News –
Plastic is building up in the areas of the ocean where fish feed and grow, according to research.
A study found bits of plastic outnumber baby fish by seven to one in nursery waters off Hawaii. It appears that the same ocean processes that concentrate prey for juvenile fish also accumulate floating plastics. There is growing evidence that plastic is being ingested by marine life, but the health implications are unclear.
“We don’t have the data to say whether or not this has a negative effect on fish populations,” Dr Gareth Williams of Bangor University, UK, told BBC News.
“But the fact that they’re eating these non-nutritious particles at the point when eating is so critical for their survival in those first few days, it can only be a bad thing.”
The researchers set out to investigate the roles of “slicks” as nursery habitats for tiny larval fish. Slicks are naturally occurring, ribbon-like, smooth water features of the oceans, which are full of plankton, an important food resource. When the researchers started surveys for plankton off the coast of Hawaii, they were surprised to find lots of plastic in the nets.