The Maldives is widely seen as a veritable beach paradise on earth with its picturesque azure blue waters. Yet lurking beneath the surface (literally) is a threat largely invisible to the naked eye: microplastics.
Waters around the islands contain some of the highest levels of microplastic pollution on the planet, say Australian marine scientists. They warn that the accumulation of plastic particles in local waters could severely impact marine life in shallow reefs and threaten the livelihoods of local communities who depend primarily on tourism and fishing.
The experts from Flinders University in Adelaide examined the levels of plastic pollution present in sand across 22 sites off the coast of Naifaru, the most populous island in Lhaviyani Atoll, an administrative division of the Maldives. The tiny pollutants are highly concentrated in waters around Naifaru and are ubiquitous elsewhere too in local waters.
“Our findings show microplastics are ubiquitous in marine sediments around a remote coral island, at sizes ingestible by marine organisms, raising concerns about potential effects of microplastic ingestion by coral reef species,” the scientists explain in a study. Read more…