Millions of tonnes of plastics in the world oceans

During her voyages, Tara has encountered both clean, healthy seas but unfortunately also a good deal of rubbish. The Pacific Ocean is worst affected if measured by quantity of plastic in tonnes. The litter, 90 per cent of which is plastic, follows the subsurface currents and creates huge mountains of rubbish. It is estimated that just off the coast of Hawaii there is now enough plastic to cover an area the size of Texas.

Plastic affects the whole ecosystem

We have known for a long time that plastic at sea affects larger sea creatures. In fact, if we don’t slow down our plastic consumption there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050. But its effect on the oceans' smaller inhabitants, such as plankton, shrimps and small fish, is a more recently discovered problem. Sunlight helps to break the plastic down into millimetre-sized fragments, known as microplastic, which these small animals confuse with food. The plastic then moves up the food chain and affects entire ecosystems.

From plankton to giant whales

Our job is to challenge conventional research, give the world’s oceans a voice and increase public understanding of the issues. We now know that both plastic and climate change affect ecosystems. The plankton in the oceans absorb large amounts of microplastic which then works its way up the food chain. Littering therefore affects the ecosystem and in the worst affected areas, plankton is almost completely absent. This of course affects animal life and at the same time there are huge quantities of rubbish.
Romain Troublé, Executive Director – Tara Expeditions Foundation