Research by the University of Groningen has determined that roughly 24 million plastic pellets have washed ashore along the northern Dutch coastline after falling overboard from the MSC Zoe and spilling into the sea.
Translation by Traci White
Research by the University of Groningen in conjunction with Dutch nature preservation group Natuurmonumenten determined that there are millions of pellets on the coastline. However, the numbers do not include how many pellets have settled on the ocean floor or in the salt marshes along the coast.
Dagblad van het Noorden reports that the Wadden Plastic inventory found the highest concentration of pellets on the island of Schiermonnikoog: 268 pellets per square meter on average. The Groningen coast (253 per square meter) and the beaches at Rottumeroog and Rottumerplaat (235 per square meter) are also still covered with the tiny pieces of plastic.
Researchers says that cleaning up the tiny pellets is extremely difficult. On Schiermonnikoog, a company from Harlingen is set to start using a sort of vacuum cleaner device which sucks up the pellets and other materials and then separates out the plastic to be transported elsewhere.
The so-called “maaiklepelzuiger” cannot be used to remove the tiny pieces of plastic underwater or in the salt marshes, and research is still being carried out into a suitable method to clean those areas.
According to the RUG researchers, it remains unclear what impact the plastic waste will have on the wildlife and nature in the Wadden Sea region.