WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - As a researcher with UNCW, Dr. Pam Seaton says her students are studying the effects plastic has on marine life off North Carolina's coast. She said they have found plastic in the guts of black sea bass, and her students will test to find out what kind of plastic it was.
"There is some evidence, and if there's a lot more plastic with a lot more pollutants it can be a worry," she said. "We're just trying to see if those pollutants actually wash off in the guts of fish, and therefore into the tissue."
Seaton said those results will help determine if the contaminants are eventually transferred to humans who consume the seafood, and what effect they could have.
Plastic Ocean Project Executive Director Bonnie Monteleone said the organization sends divers below the surface offshore, and finds there's a much higher concentration of plastic pollution below the surface.
Monteleone said a recent video showing a diver swimming through trash in Bali is concerning, but hopes it encourages people to be part of a solution to the contamination.
"If we understand that if we all reduce our use of plastics and all participate in cleanups, then we have a better chance of it not ending up in the fish that we eat," she said.
She added the organization's Ocean Friendly Initiative has been a successful partnership with local restaurants, encouraging them to only give straws upon request.
Monteleone said during cleanups on Wrightsville Beach, volunteers have found far fewer straws, and the initiative appears to be working.