National Geographic : 2019 May
Fish nurseries off Hawaii are now a microplastic mess. The naturally oily surface slicks in which many ocean fish come of age are rich in plankton and other fish food—and now also in plastics, according to researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Honolulu. They’ve been towing fine- mesh nets through slicks off the Big Island and analyzing each haul. Here, a scribbled filefish, about 50 days old and two inches long, navigates a soup of plastic. PREVIOUS PHOTO The blue glove hasn’t been in the water long enough to suffer the fate of most ocean plastic, which is to be shredded into small bits, or microplastics, by waves and sunlight. The larval fish below the thumb is a driftfish; the striped one at the base of the index finger is a mahi-mahi. ALL PHOTOGRAPHS MADE AT A TEMPORARY FIELD LAB, NOAA PACIFIC ISLANDS FISHERIES SCIENCE CENTER, KAILUA KONA, HAWAII, EXCEPT WHERE NOTED.