A new report has tracked the huge uptick in the amount of plastics in the world’s oceans, with data from over four decades and accessing 6.5 million nautical miles tracking ocean pollution levels.
Scientists from the University of Plymouth have published a new paper in the journal Nature communications, showing a significant increase in larger plastic items such as rope and bags, while also tracking a huge increase in mictroplastics.
The findings are based on records of when plastics have become entangled on a towed marine sampler, the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR).
The CPR device is towed in surface waters and occupies a similar space to a marine mammal, and therefore is impacted by entanglements in a similar way.
Lead Author Dr Clare Ostle said that the plastics are ubiquitous, and that the consequent health impacts are yet to be fully understood.
“What is unique about this work is we have been able to demonstrate the increase in ocean plastic since the 1990s. The Continuous Plankton Recorder survey data highlights the importance of maintaining long-term surveys, and their invaluable importance for retrospective analyses,” Dr Ostle said.