Published: 06th May 2020
Cigarettes, food wrappers among most common ocean pollutants: Study
The analysis revealed that most common items on the ocean are fishing line, plastic, metal cans, plastic beverage bottles, glass bottles, food wrappers, rope, plastic bags and construction waste
An Australian science agency has revealed the most common items polluting oceans and coastlines around the world. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) on Wednesday released an analysis of the results of two global, volunteer-based pollution surveys, the Dive Against Debris seafloor survey conducted by Project AWARE and Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) of beach and near-shore debris.
The CSIRO analysis, the first of its kind in the world, revealed that the most common items found on the seafloor by Project AWARE were fishing line, plastic fragments, metal cans, plastic beverage bottles, glass bottles, food wrappers, rope, plastic bags and construction waste.
The most common debris polluting coastlines were cigarettes, plastic fragments, food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, synthetic foam, plastic bags, metal cans, and glass bottles. Lauren Roman, a CSIRO Postdoctoral Researcher who led the study, said that the results suggested that an item's buoyancy and its tendency to snag were the biggest factors in if it would end up on the seafloor or coastline.
"Many of the items recorded on land, such as cigarette butts, are rarely seen on the seafloor; our analysis shows that this is likely because certain items are simply more likely to 'swim away' than sink," she said. "Conversely, items that sink or entangle like fishing line and plastic bags were found in comparable amounts on both land and underwater. " Volunteer citizen scientists involved in the projects recorded more than 32 million debris items at more than 19,000 land and seafloor sites in 86 countries and regions between 2011 and 2018.
Denise Hardesty, a CSIRO scientist, said that the landmark study proved the value of citizen scientists. "This complements the work being done by academic scientists around the world," she said.