While the surface of the Thames may look relatively clean these days, underneath the boat trippers lies a mass of discarded plastic, which is flooding out into the Thames Estuary and along into the North Sea.
According to researchers who used tightly meshed crab nets to trap rubbish being pushed along the bottom of the river, the Thames is secretly throwing masses of plastic cups, food wrappers and more discarded junk into the sea. And given the way crab nets attached to the riverbed were used to pull out the example rubbish, much of it appears to be flowing along the bottom, completely unseen.
Dr. Paul Clark, a researcher at the Natural History Museum, explained: "This litter moves up and down the river bed depending on tides. The movement causes the pieces of plastic to break down into smaller fragments. These are small enough to be eaten by even the smallest animals, which are in turn eaten by larger fish and birds. Once digested, plastic can release toxic chemicals which are then passed through the food chain." [ENS]