By Matthew Warren
Scientists have uncovered the first strong evidence that the amount of plastic polluting the oceans has risen vastly in recent decades — by analysing 60 years of log books for plankton-tracking vessels.
Data recorded by instruments known as continuous plankton recorders (CPRs) — which ships have collectively towed millions of kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean — show that the trackers have become entangled in large plastic objects, such as bags and fishing lines, roughly three times more often since 2000 than in preceding decades.
This is the first time that researchers have demonstrated the rise in ocean plastics using a single, long-term data set, says Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. “I’m excited that this has been finally done,” he says. The analysis was published1 on 16 April in Nature Communications.
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