August finds droves of vacationers beach-bound with visions of crystal clear waters dancing in their heads. Those images might need a bit of fine-tuning. As it turns out, that clean-looking ocean is awash in paint and fiberglass, according to an article in Science Magazine. The millimeter thick, uppermost surface of the sea is flecked with microscopic fragments of paint coming from the decks and hulls of fishing boats, say environmental chemists from the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, pollution that may threaten zooplankton and the marine food chain.
Research found 81 percent of the particles in the ocean’s microlayer came from the alkyd binder in paints, another 11 percent were polyester resins and four percent were well-known plastics including polyethylene, polypropylene and expanded polystyrene. Scientists matched the fragments with paint chips gathered from local shipyards. The open ocean and coastal regions with less shipping and fishing are likely not as affected, according to the researchers cited.