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In the latest Ocean Race, a round-the-world sailing event, sailors found an alarming increase in microplastic particles in even the most remote waters. This stark reality underscores the pressing issue of plastic Pollution and its far-reaching impact on our planet’s marine ecosystems.
Sailors tested the waters throughout their journey, only to find microplastics present in every single sample, even from remote regions farthest from land. Certain areas had concentrations of up to 1,884 microplastic particles per cubic meter of seawater, an alarming 18 times higher than the last Ocean Race in 2018. While these higher readings reflect more sensitive detection equipment, the ubiquity of microplastics paints a worrying picture.
Victoria Fulfer, a visiting scientist from the University of Rhode Island at the National Oceanography Centre, expressed her concern. “We are finding microplastics everywhere, from coastal areas to the most remote regions of the ocean,” she said.
Most worryingly, areas nearest to coasts and urban settings presented the highest concentrations, reflecting our day-to-day consumer habits. The most abundant type of microplastic found was polyethylene, commonly used in single-use packaging, plastic bags, and containers. This is disturbing given the crucial role of coastal areas in global ecology and in protecting our marine species.
Point Nemo, the most remote spot on earth, also revealed a significant increase in microplastic concentrations. Compared to the last race, the concentration of microplastics in this region has surged from 9-41 particles to 320 particles per cubic meter of seawater.
This critical research is part of a science program conducted during the 62,000km Ocean Race. Sailors collect valuable data on sea temperatures, CO2, oxygen, and trace elements from regions seldom reached by scientific research vessels. This information is shared with various scientific organizations and the public on theoceanracescience.com.
The surge in microplastic pollution is a wake-up call for us all. As the microplastic threat looms large, it’s high time we consider our consumption habits and make choices that are kinder to our oceans. Whether it’s reducing single-use plastic consumption or participating in beach cleanups, every action counts. Let’s do our part to safeguard the health of our oceans and, in turn, our own.
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