Miniscule plastic particles with the potential to cause havoc in our waterways and oceans have been found in the stomachs of over a quarter of fish sampled in Sydney Harbour.
Named microplastics, the tiny plastic fragments, beads and fibres are sometimes made directly as beads, and sometimes created by the break-down of plastics used in clothing, packaging, fishing gear, nappies and wipes.
Water sampling devices are keeping watch around the clock for toxic discharges into Melbourne’s creeks and stormwater drains, thanks to Victorian researchers at the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM), based at the University of Melbourne.
And, they are also developing a new range of aquatic critter-containing sensors.
Seabirds on one of Australia’s remotest islands have plastic in their stomachs.
A recent survey found more than 95 per cent of the migratory flesh-footed shearwaters nesting on Lord Howe Island, between Australia and the northern tip of New Zealand, had swallowed plastic garbage.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, plastic has been shown to bind poisonous pollutants. As a result, some shearwaters were found with concentrations of mercury more than 7,000 times the level considered toxic.