Researchers are surprised that humans generate as much as 10 trillion pieces of plastic wastes the world over, and that about 5.25 trillion find their ways into oceans and rivers, and weigh as much as 269,000 tons to keep on floating across ocean surfaces.

The co-founder of 5 Gyres Institute, Dr. Marcus Eriksen, led a team of researchers aboard ships to scour the surfaces of oceans and collected thousands of plastic wastes among other discarded items like toys, bags, toothbrushes, bottles, disused fishing nets and buoys, and other floating trash and debris.

Plastics of broken containers and other household products litter the surfaces of the world’s oceans, and these weigh tons of measure as they present an untidy sight. Plastic wastes alone weigh almost 5.25 trillion while others weigh 269,000 tons. This goes beyond just the weight and the unsightly appearance they make top ocean surfaces, it also has to do with the pollution they constitute to human environments and aquatic habitats.

Andrés Cózar, a scientist from the University of Spain states that “it is evident that there is too much plastic in the ocean. The current model of management of plastic materials is (economically and ecologically) unsustainable.” And Chelsea M. Rochman, a marine ecologist from the University of California, Davis, added “Plastics are like a cocktail of contaminants floating around in the aquatic habitat.”

Researchers also looked forward to collecting huge amounts of tiny plastic particles that could give off billions of tons of weight, but were only able to collect about 35,000 tons of plastic grains as small as sands. And this got them thinking; where would be billions of fine particles of plastics have gone to? The researchers were eventually able to work down their options to two possibilities: either the bulk of the plastic particles are eaten by fish and other aquatic creatures or they get weighed down to the bottom of the seas.

And this is where the danger lies. The possibility that fish and other marine life consume these plastic particles indicate that they also absorb the toxic chemicals with which these plastics are made, and then pass off the toxins to predators that eat them. But Nancy Wallace of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for some caution in reaching hasty conclusions; she says “It’s premature to say there is less plastic in the ocean than we thought. There may just be less where we’re looking.”

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