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MEDITERRANEAN

Mediterranean could become a ‘sea of plastic’, warns WWF

The Mediterranean could become a "sea of plastic", the WWF warned on Friday in a report calling for measures to clean up one of the world's worst affected bodies of water.

Mediterranean could become a 'sea of plastic', warns WWF
Photo: AFP

The WWF said the Mediterranean had record levels of “micro-plastics,” the tiny pieces of plastic less than five millimetres (0.2 inches) in size which can be found increasingly in the food chain posing a threat to human health.

“The concentration of micro-plastics is nearly four times higher” in the Mediterranean compared with open seas elsewhere in the world, said the report, “Out of the Plastic Trap: Saving the Mediterranean from Plastic Pollution.”

The problem, as all over the world, is simply that plastics have become an essential part of our daily lives while recycling only accounts for a third of the waste in Europe.

Plastic represents 95 percent of the waste floating in the Mediterranean and on its beaches, with most coming from Turkey and Spain, followed by Italy, Egypt and France, the report said.

To tackle the problem, there has to be an international agreement to reduce the dumping of plastic waste and to help clear up the mess at sea, the WWF said.

All countries around the Mediterranean should boost recycling, ban single-use plastics such as bags and bottles, and phase out the use of micro plastics in detergents or cosmetics by 2025.

The plastics industry itself should develop recyclable and compostable products made out of renewable raw materials, not chemicals derived from oil.

Individuals too have their role to play, making personal choices such as to use combs or kitchen utensils made of wood, not plastic, the WWF said.

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OFFBEAT

French divers launch daring deep-sea expedition to uncover ‘lost paradises’ of Mediterranean

A team of French divers took to the sea off Marseille in a canary yellow capsule on Monday to spend a month exploring the deep waters of the Mediterranean, without decompressing until the very end.

French divers launch daring deep-sea expedition to uncover 'lost paradises' of Mediterranean
The team of French divers who are set to spend a month exploring the depths of the Mediterranean. Photo: AFP
Laurent Ballesta, the marine naturalist and underwater photographer leading the audacious four-man “Planet Mediterranean” expedition, told AFP it aimed to 
show “that the Mediterranean is still very beautiful, with sort of lost paradises and secret oases beyond a certain depth.”
   
The divers will remain at depths of up to 120 metres (395 feet) for up to eight hours a day without having to worry about getting the bends when they resurface because they will remain sealed inside the airtight capsule for the duration of the mission.
   
“We no longer have to worry that with every passing minute at a depth of 120 metres, it will take us hours to resurface,” said Ballesta, who had the idea of using the diving bell provided by France's National Institute for Professional Diving.
 
   
Every day, the steel capsule, which measures one square metre, will be lowered from a barge into the gloom of the “twilight” or mesophotic zone, where only one percent of the sun's rays penetrate.
   
After each deep-sea dive, the divers will return to the chamber, in which the pressure is set at 13 times the pressure of the atmosphere.
 
In an interview with France Inter radio, Ballesta said the divers would have the impression “of having water in their ears all the time.”
   
They will then be brought back to the surface where the capsule will be connected to two other chambers — one acting as a bathroom and the other as a kitchen with a small table and an airlock through which to receive food.
   
The research station will be towed by barge along the coast between Marseille and Monaco over the course of the month, with the divers waiting until the very end before entering the decompression chamber for three days.
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