Co-authored by Erica Cirino
2016 started off with a dire prediction for the world’s oceans: By 2050, the seas will contain more plastic—by weight—than fish. There’s an estimated 8 -12 million metric tons of plastic making its way into the oceans each year. And as the plastic mess in the oceans grows, so do concerns over the health of the marine creatures living in it.
While it’s known that plastic bags and bottles pose a risk to sea creatures, a lesser-known threat is now coming to light, one that’s created when ocean waves and wind pulverize the plastic bags, bottles and other trash that ends up in the seas: “microplastics.”
These tiny plastic pieces are about the same size and shape as the algae eaten by some marine animals. How microplastics affect marine animals is not well understood.