No microplastic was found in the majority of samples taken for testing during 1972 to 1987. But over the last 40 years,plastic waste floating in the North Pacific has grown 100-fold.
"The abundance of small human-produced plastic particles in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG) has increased by 100 times over the last four decades," said a statement on the findings of researchers from the University of California.
The United Nations Environment Program says around 13,000 pieces of plastic litter are found in every square kilometer of sea, but the problem is worst in the North Pacific.
According to the estimation done by scientists, the swirling mass of waste known as the NPSG is home to the world's largest floating "island" of trash, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is roughly the size of Texas(the second most populous and extensive among the 50 United States).
The study said the NPSG is providing a new habitat for ocean insects called "sea-skaters" which prey on plankton and fish eggs and are in turn fed on by seabirds, turtles and fish.
The plastic particles are being consumed by marine life and birds, and the mix is loaded with toxic chemicals. Insects which spends their entire life at sea, needs a hard surface on which they can lay their eggs and reproduce. Earlier it was limited to relatively rare items like floating wood, pumice and sea shells.
An estimated 90% of floating debris in the ocean is plastic, which can take hundreds of years to break down at sea. Organic pollutants from sewage, nutrient pollution from fertilizer run-off, plastic marine debris, toxic dumping and oil spills, urban runoff and dispersed pollutants combine to create one of the most critical points of ocean threats. Wastewater from aquaculture, offshore oil and mining, radionuclide, oil spills and anti-fouling chemicals, and toxic dumping compound the problem.
Terrible yet true:
The vast swirl of plastic waste floating in the North Pacific has grown 100 times over the last 40 years, according to a research paper published Wednesday.
Scientists further warned that the lethal amalgamation of micro-plastic (particles smaller than five millimeters, that is 0.2 of an inch) threatened to alter the open ocean's natural environment.
No micro-plastic was found in the majority of samples taken for testing during the period 1972 to 1987, said the paper in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
Potential threat looms on zoo-plankton or fish eggs, if the population rise of the insects who feed on them is not checked. This would all be due to the rising micro-plastic density, the scientists warned.