Thanks to the International School of the Peninsula in Palo Alto, hundreds of pieces of plastic litter were picked up on two of the most beautiful beaches in the SF Bay Area during the last two weeks. It's astounding how much plastic is in our oceans and great lakes. 90% of floating ocean debris is made of plastic. 36.5 % of fish in the English Channel were found to have plastic in their gastrointestinal tracts. In Hawaii, a hawksbill sea turtle had so much plastic in its intestinal tract that it couldn't dive down for food because it was so buoyant! There's a lot of micro-sized bits too. In a recent study of Lakes Huron, Superior and Erie, water samples indicated the presence of 450,000 micro bits of plastic per square kilometer of water. Many of the bits are plastic microbeads found in popular facial scrubs, and even in sunscreens and toothpastes!
There's a lot of cleaning up to do. We're glad we could share a service learning project picking up beach litter with over 100 students and chaperones this fall at Fieldguides. We had a lot of FUN doing it too!