Giant carpet of plastic waste threatens marine wildlife
The heavy pollution of the oceans by plastic waste is increasingly becoming a problem for marine life such as whales, sea turtles or fish, as well as seabirds, who mistake the rubbish for food or drown in lost fishing nets. According to the environmental protection group Greenpeace, what is particularly striking in this context is a carpet of waste in the central North Pacific, which is sometimes twice the size of Germany.
According to Greenpeace, 80 percent of the plastic waste comes from land and a fifth from shipping - for example through disposal on the high seas - and endangers at least 267 animal species that have been found with corresponding remains in their bodies or in driftnets. The problem affects all marine regions, but is most evident in the North Pacific: Oceanic currents bring trash here from East Asia and North America, then trap it in a quasi-stationary vortex until the material is destroyed by the sun and s alt water: a process that varies depending on the plastic can last several years to decades. During this time, objects of all sizes - from bottle caps to toothbrushes and canisters to complete fishing nets - sometimes store and accumulate pollutants from the water.
But the main problem is direct intake by the animals, which swallow smaller waste but can no longer excrete it. Albatrosses and sea turtles often starve because their stomachs are filled with plastic and they can no longer eat natural food. Abandoned catching devices, as so-called ghost nets, continue to form deadly traps for fish or whales that get caught in them. This danger is only averted when these nets become too heavy and they therefore sink to the sea floor. Greenpeace also warns against the potential long-distance transport of organisms, which drift into new habitats in this way and can become problematic there as invasive species.