The preliminary results of one of the world’s first surveys to assess the content of microscopic plastic fibers in dolphin stomachs found dead on the Aegean coasts are extremely worrying! The research, carried out by the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, in which parts of the digestive system of 7 dolphins were analyzed, has detected more than 700 tiny particles and plastic fibers so far. Based on these first results, it is estimated that, in the full digestive system of each dolphin, the total microscopic content per dolphin will exceed 1700 particles and fibers.

The Microplastics Team of Archipelagos Institute is also conducting other surveys in order to estimate the microplastic content in fish, invertebrates, surface waters, and marine sediments from various areas of the Greek seas. Through this research we aim to obtain a realistic assessment of the extent of the problem in the Greek seas and in the wider region of the Mediterranean Sea. By publishing the results of our surveys we aspire to contribute to a deeper understanding by everyone -citizens and decision makers alike- of the irreversible nature of this anthropogenic problem and of the responsibility we all share to take drastic measures -not just superficial public relations stands.

Through its excessive use and disposal, plastic is constantly accumulating in the environment. Although we have spent decades discussing this issue, effective actions have not been taken to tackle it. Plastic waste in our lives and in the environment is increasing, rather than diminishing, both qualitatively and quantitatively. New types of unnecessary plastic are quickly becoming part of our everyday life, with the “blessing” of the EU, which firmly supports the European plastic industry, touting the cliché of supporting employment without intending to resolve the problem.

As far as Greece is concerned, not only has the state not taken any effective measures, but it also selectively applying its obligations by European legislation, allowing the problem to grow. On the other hand, members of civil society who take action to address the accumulation of plastic pollutants in the environment, although well-meaning, often inadvertently contribute to citizens’ complacency rather than raise concern, as they often limit their activities to seasonal cleaning of busy beaches, just before the start of the summer season.

With so many years, so many words and so many resources spent on the issue of plastic pollutant management, whenever research reveals new evidence of pollution, such as the worrying results of this dolphin study, we see that the problem is continuously getting bigger and uncontrollable. The question remains as to how much harm must be caused before we realize that we cannot afford to remain passive spectators in the destruction of our planet’s health, to which we all currently contribute.