General, Research, Technology

Who can cleanse the seas and oceans of plastic waste?

Food manufacturers started en masseuse plastic only in the second half of the 20th century. Not so much time has passed since then, but this was enough for plastic debris to fill the vast expanses of the world's oceans. Plastic bottles and packaging are found even in the deepest parts of our planet and are causing the extinction of animals. Plastic particles are found even inside the human body. Environmentalists have long sounded the alarm and urged people to stop using this material, but progress in this matter has not yet been noticeable. But even if people instantly listen to requests, there will be enough problems. After all, the garbage has already fallen into the depths of the oceans and must be somehow removed from there. Recently, scientists have noticed that cleaning the seas and oceans from plastic is already underway and are engaged in this business ... algae.

According to statistics, up to 8 million tons of plastic gets into the oceans every year.

Healthy algae

The sudden discovery was reported in the scientificScience Alert. At the moment, scientists know about the existence of about 100 thousand algae. Most of them play a large role in improving water quality. For example, they absorb carbon dioxide and oxygenate the water. In addition, they are food for many inhabitants of the seas and oceans. And fish often use algae as a hiding place while sleeping. And, of course, do not forget that we eat algae as well. In general, without them, the entire planet would have had a very hard time.

The length of the largest algae in the world, macrocystis, reaches 45 meters

But within the framework of this article, we are interested in algaePosidonia Oceanica, also called the "balls of Neptune". These algae grow in large plantations near the shores of many seas. Sometimes their width is 15 kilometers, and the total mass is 6 thousand tons. According to the calculations of researchers, the age of these algae can be estimated at 100 thousand years. They are of great benefit. Not only do they purify water and serve as a shelter for fish and other inhabitants of the seas and oceans, they are often used to make materials for soundproofing.

Posidonia grow in whole plantations

But their most interesting feature isthe fact that from time to time they break off from the bottom and turn into spherical lumps. They break off due to strong waves and are usually thrown ashore. Due to their shape and color, some tourists mistake them for animal excrement. The size of these balls is different: sometimes with a coin, and in some cases the radius reaches 45 centimeters. For a long time, it was believed that these balls are useless and are nothing more than the result of unusual tricks of nature. But they, as it turned out, almost save our planet from disaster.

Neptune balls with plastic particles

Дело в том, что во время изучения этих шаров, исследователи обнаружили запутавшиеся частицы пластикового мусора. Листья посидонии могут достигать 50 сантиметров в длину, поэтому они вполне могут захватывать пластиковый мусор и выносить вместе с собой на берег. По расчетам исследователей, эти водоросли могут собирать 900 миллионов пластиковых предметов в год и это только в Средиземном море. Если «шары Нептуна» собирают пластиковый мусор и в других частях нашей планеты, они явно делают огромный вклад в спасение мира от катастрофы.

Read also: The amount of microplastics on the seabed shocked scientists

Очистка планеты от мусора

Scientists should clearly study the beachedalgae and in other parts of the Earth. In theory, if these balls are collected and properly disposed of, our planet can still be cleaned of dirt. But algae alone cannot cope with this task. After all, they clearly capture only particles, plastic, which are located near the coast. And, as I said above, there is plastic debris even in very deep depressions. An effective technology for collecting waste from water does not yet exist, and there is no particular sense in it at the moment. Until humanity stops producing tons of plastic waste, the problem cannot be completely solved.

And this picture is observed everywhere.

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Fortunately, a ban on at least plasticpackages are being introduced in more and more countries. According to the UN, up to 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year. If this continues, there will be more plastic in water than animals by 2050. Strict bans on the use of plastic bags are already in place in parts of Africa and Australia. Everything is so serious that in Kenya, even a single plastic bag can be fined for $ 19,000. And if a person is caught a second time, a criminal term of up to 4 years is provided.