Wandering Waste: Unintended Travel Down Mission's Waterways
We are so fortunate to live in our beautiful town of Mission. But living in such a beautiful place means that we have the responsibility of keeping it as such. One way we can do this is to stop waste from getting into our nearby water systems such as creeks, lakes, and the Fraser River. The Fraser River is a direct link to the ocean which increases the need to keep it waste free. The Pacific Ocean is home to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Garbage Patch stretches from the West Coast of North America to Japan. It is estimated that 80% of the waste accumulated in the garbage patch is from activities on land in North America and Asia. Most of this waste is comprised of microplastics which are caused by the sun breaking down plastic waste, such as bottles and bags, into tiny pieces.
According to National Geographic, “scientists have collected up to 750,000 bits of microplastic in a single square kilometer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” These microplastics, and larger pieces of waste negatively impact marine life. Marine life can mistake the larger waste for food and become entangled or fill their stomachs with indigestible plastics. The smaller microplastics are so tiny that they can be ingested by creatures as small as sea snails, deep sea star fish, and insects. As larger and larger creatures along the food chain consume microplastic-filled food sources, the plastics increase in volume. The ingestion of microplastics can lead to malnutrition and eventual death for the animal. This leads to fewer food sources for larger marine animals and less available seafood for humans.
For further information on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the negative impact of litter on our waterways please visit:
Microplastics seen during the 2014 Northwestern Hawaiian Islands marine debris removal mission (NOAA).