Ocean contains a million times more microplastic particles than previously thought

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A new study from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego suggests that the ocean could potentially contain a million times more microplastic particles than previously thought.

Researchers say that past methods used for collecting microplastic samples, such as net tows, were inadequate as smaller plastic particles are able to escape through the holes of the net.

For the study, the team developed a new technique to gather microplastics from the ocean surface.

Researchers took three different cruises during three different time periods between 2009 to 2015 to gather surface seawater samples in metal buckets from the open ocean and near the shore. The samples were promptly filtered with polycarbonate filters and then frozen.

Scientists also gathered 100 salp samples from the sea in 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 using mesh bongo nets.

The study found that nearshore samples of seawater had a higher concentration of plastic than samples obtained from the open sea. Researchers then analysed the salps via epifluorescence microscopy and found that every single salp sample contained tiny microplastic pieces in their gut.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Ocean filled with microplastics
2. Previous methods used to collect microplastic sample
3. New technique to gather seawater samples from the ocean
4. Gathering salp samples from the sea
5. Results of the study

VOICEOVER (in English):

"A new study from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego suggests that the ocean could potentially contain a million times more microplastic particles than previously thought."

"Researchers say that past methods used for collecting microplastic samples, such as net tows, were inadequate as smaller plastic particles are able to escape through the holes of the net."

"For the study, the team developed a new technique to gather microplastics from the ocean surface."

"Researchers took three different cruises during three different time periods between 2009 to 2015 to gather surface seawater samples in metal buckets from the open ocean and near the shore. The samples were promptly filtered with polycarbonate filters and then frozen."

"Scientists also gathered 100 salp samples from the sea in 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 using mesh bongo nets. Salps are gelatinous creatures that suck in seawater for food as well as to propel themselves in the ocean."

"The study found that nearshore samples of seawater had a higher concentration of plastic than samples obtained from the open sea."

"Researchers then analysed the salps via epifluorescence microscopy and found that every single salp sample contained tiny microplastic pieces in their gut."

"Scientists estimated that the sea is contaminated by roughly 8.3 million pieces of
'mini-microplastics,' or the smallest microplastics, per cubic meter of water."

SOURCES: National Science Foundation, Fox News, Limnology and Oceanography Letters, University of California San Diego
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-microplastics-million-abundant-ocean-previously.html
https://www.foxnews.com/science/oceans-a-million-times-microplastic-than-we-realized
https://aslopubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/lol2.10127
https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/microplastics-million-times-more-abundant-ocean-previously-thought-scripps-study-suggests