Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists uncover hidden river of rubbish threatening to devastate wildlife

Date:
January 2, 2014
Source:
University of Royal Holloway London
Summary:
Thousands of pieces of plastic have been discovered, submerged along the river bed of the upper Thames Estuary.

The sheer amount of plastic recovered shows there is an unseen stream of rubbish flowing through London which could be a serious threat to aquatic wildlife.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Royal Holloway London

Thousands of pieces of plastic have been discovered, submerged along the river bed of the upper Thames Estuary by scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Natural History Museum.

Related Articles


The sheer amount of plastic recovered shows there is an unseen stream of rubbish flowing through London which could be a serious threat to aquatic wildlife. The findings, published online in Marine Pollution Bulletin, highlight the cause for concern, not only for ecosystems around the river but for the North Sea, in to which the Thames flows.

Using nets designed to catch Chinese mitten crabs, Royal Holloway and the Natural History Museum scientists documented rubbish collected during a three-month trial. More than 8,000 pieces of plastic were collected, including large numbers of cigarette packaging, food wrappers and cups, but more than a fifth of waste was made up of sanitary products.

Dr Dave Morritt, a Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology at Royal Holloway and co-author of the study says: "The unusual aspect of the study is that these nets are originally designed to trap fish and crabs moving along the river bed, so we can see that the majority of this litter is hidden below the surface. This underwater litter must be taken into account when predicting the amount of pollution entering our rivers and seas, not just those items that we can see at the surface and washed up on shore. The potential impacts this could have for wildlife are far reaching: not only are the species that live in and around the river affected, but also those in seas that rivers feed into."

The waste collected for the study is only a small snapshot of the volume of litter which may exist at the bottom of the Thames. Plastic bags and other large items were unlikely to get caught in the small nets so the true extent of the problem is still unknown.

Dr Paul Clark, a researcher, at the Natural History Museum and co-author of the study says: "All of this waste, which was mostly plastic, was hidden underwater so Londoners probably don't realise that it's there. Plastic can have a damaging impact on underwater life. Large pieces can trap animals but smaller pieces can be in advertently eaten. This litter moves up and down the river bed depending on tides. The movement causes the pieces of plastic to break down into smaller fragments. These are small enough to be eaten by even the smallest animals, which are in turn eaten by larger fish and birds. Once digested, plastic can release toxic chemicals which are then passed through the food chain. These toxic chemicals, in high doses, could harm the health of wildlife."

Scientists are increasingly pressing for changes to both policy and consumer behaviours, as the dangers of plastics become more apparent.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Royal Holloway London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David Morritt, Paris V. Stefanoudis, Dave Pearce, Oliver A. Crimmen, Paul F. Clark. Plastic in the Thames: A river runs through it. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.10.035

Cite This Page:

University of Royal Holloway London. "Scientists uncover hidden river of rubbish threatening to devastate wildlife." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140102112243.htm>.
University of Royal Holloway London. (2014, January 2). Scientists uncover hidden river of rubbish threatening to devastate wildlife. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140102112243.htm
University of Royal Holloway London. "Scientists uncover hidden river of rubbish threatening to devastate wildlife." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140102112243.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins