Scientists on Madeira see new ‘plasticrust’ sea pollution


A new kind of plastic sea pollution has been found on the coast of Madeira – and experts are calling it ‘plasticrust ‘Scientists say they have found small patches of what looks like melted plastic encrusted on rocks along the shoreline of the volcanic Portuguese island They first spotted the mostly blue and grey patches of various sizes in 2016 while working on the island, off northwest Africa They are now reporting that the area the patches cover has increased substantially since then  A new kind of plastic sea pollution has been found on the coast of Madeira – and experts are calling it ‘plasticrust’ (pictured)Scientists at Portugal’s Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre (Mare) say they don’t know yet where the plastic comes from or how it could affect marine life A single patch was identified three years ago, which has since spread to cover around 10 per cent of the rocky surfaces found along the shore they studied   Chemical tests showed the material is polyethylene, the world’s most widely used plastic found in plastic food containers and single use packaging The crusts, on a specific part of the shore, are exposed at low tide. Speaking to Earther, Mare researcher Ignacio Gestoso said: ‘The crusts likely originated by the crash of large pieces of plastic against the rocky shore, resulting in plastic crusting the rock in a similar way algae or lichens do ‘As a marine ecologist researcher, I would prefer to be reporting other types of findings, and not a paper describing this sad new way of plastic pollution ‘Unfortunately, the magnitude of the problem is so huge that few places are free of plastic pollution ‘   Scientists say they have found small patches of what looks like melted plastic encrusted on rocks along the shoreline of the volcanic Portuguese island (pictured) Experts say the plasticrust is replacing natural biological crusts and films that sea creatures like barnacles and snails need to stick to   In fact, an algae-eating species of winkle sea snail was found in similar numbers on the plasticrusts as on normal shoreline That suggests that they aren’t avoiding the plastic material, but are instead feeding on the algae that make it their home They may also be inadvertently consuming the plastic at the same time, plastic that can then enter food chains when the snails themselves are consumed  Writing in a paper about the findings, its authors said: ‘Plastic debris is one of the most extensive pollution problems our planet is facing today and a particular concern for marine environment conservation  ‘The dimension of the problem is so large that it is possible our current era will generate an anthropogenic marker horizon of plastic in earth’s sedimentary record ‘The full findings of the study were published in the journal Science of The Total Environment  WHAT DOES DEEP-SEA DEBRIS DATABASE REVEAL ABOUT OCEAN PLASTIC POLLUTION?Plastic pollution is a scourge that is ravaging the surface of our planet  Now, the polluting polymer is sinking down to the bottom of the ocean. The deepest part of the ocean is found in the Mariana Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands It stretches down nearly 36,100 feet (11,000 metres) below the surface.One plastic bag was found 35,754 feet (10,898 metres) below the surface in this region, the deepest known piece of human-made pollution in the world  This single-use piece of plastic was found deeper than 33 Eiffel towers, laid tip to base, would reach Whilst the plastic pollution is rapidly sinking, it is also spreading further into the middle of the oceans  A piece of plastic was found over 620 miles (1,000 km) from the nearest coast – that’s further than the length of France The Global Oceanographic Data Center (Godac) of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (Jamstec) launched for public use in March 2017  In this database, there is the data from 5,010 different dives. From all of these different dives, 3,425 man-made debris items were counted  More than 33 per cent of the debris was macro-plastic followed by metal (26 per cent), rubber (1 8 per cent), fishing gear (1.7 per cent), glass (1.4 per cent), cloth/paper/lumber (1 3 per cent), and ‘other’ anthropogenic items (35 per cent).It was also discovered that of all the waste found, 89 per cent of it was designed for single-use purposes  This is defined as plastic bags, bottles and packages. The deeper the study looked, the greater the amount of plastic they found  Of all man-made items found deeper than 20,000 feet (6,000 metres), the ratios increased to 52 per cent for macro-plastic and 92 per cent for single-use plastic The direct damage this caused to the ecosystem and environment is clear to see as deep-sea organisms were observed in the 17 per cent of plastic debris images taken by the study