Our research group studies the distribution, accumulation, and degradation of plastic debris that wash up on shorelines and accumulate in lake bottom sediments. These are some of the fragments that you can find along shorelines. Most of these, you can't identify what the original product is, they are just broken-down items. Fragments are a really big issue, and as I mentioned, we're finding a lot of fragments in lake bottom sediments of the Great Lakes.
These are examples of larger plastic items and it indicates how some organisms, like seabirds especially, are particularly interested in different coloured products and they tend to mistake them for food. Persistent organic pollutants can absorb to the surfaces of plastics, and if a fish for example eats a pellet that has persistent organic pollutants on it, there's the chance that those pollutants will travel up the food chain. And fish have been found to have plastics in their stomachs, so we know that ingestion is happening and that entanglement is happening.
I love Lake Huron because it's a place where I grew up and the waters are clear, I can see right to the bottom. Never did I see a bit of plastic when I was young, but now that's changed.
My Watermark is Lake Huron, Ontario.