No plastics left behind: study confirms plastic beach debris a danger to ocean life


At current rates of plastic production, by 2050 the total mass of plastics in our oceans will outweigh the biomass of fish.  — World Economic Forum


Last summer, Bertrand Munier spent four weeks picking up plastic debris from nine beaches along Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, B.C..  He photographed and collected every piece of plastic debris within a 1-km X 10-meter strip of mid-tide beach and ended up with 150 items.

Munier, an environmental engineering student on a study exchange from Lyon, France was carrying out research under the supervision of biological sciences professor Leah Bendell.

Myriad studies have shown that plastic particles present significant risks to aquatic ecosystems and the humans who rely on these ecosystems. But Bendell wanted to dig deeper and determine the potential role of both macro (more than 5mm) and micro plastics (less than 5mm) in providing a source of trace metals, zinc, copper, cadmium and lead to intertidal food webs.

She was staggered by the diversity of objects Munier collected. Items ranged from children’s toys, bicycle parts and personal hygiene items to food packaging.


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Image via Simon Fraser University.