Global warming, excessive fishing, maritime traffic and mass tourism, so many factors which endanger the Mediterranean Sea and which mobilize many scientists and associations. “The sentinels of the Mediterranean”, one of the episodes of the river series directed by Frédéric Fougea, broadcast at 10:50 p.m. on France 2, details the various initiatives carried out by these defenders of the environment and in the first place those of researchers. Because if the Mediterranean is the largest intercontinental sea, it also has the sad privilege of being the most polluted in the world. Main scourge: plastic which lines its seabed endangers its fauna and contaminates the food chain.
“Recently, microparticles have been found in human placentas.”alarmed in the documentary the scientist Anne-Leila Meistertzheim, director of thea start-up Plastic@Seaincubated at the Banyuls-sur-Mer Oceanological Observatory. “VSThe plastic microparticles were found on the child’s side and also on the mother’s side. Which means that there is a transfer in this chain, and the more we test new products, the more we find microparticles of plastic in what we eat.
To fight against this major problem, scientists are multiplying experiments in order to assess and try to reduce the harmfulness of plastic on marine fauna and, consequently, on humans.
If eradicating the 200,000 tons of plastic waste discharged each year in the Mediterranean seems utopian, the hope of seeing their toxicity reduced seems possible today thanks to the involvement of certain industrialists. Smade aware of the plight of the environment and aware of their responsibility, they increasingly call on researchers to find solutions to make their products less pathogenic.
This is the case of François Clément-Grandcourt, general manager of the lighters division of the entcover BIC, which entrusted the Plastic@Sea laboratory with a study on the level of plastic toxicity of its products, and which testifies in the documentary. “The whole point of science is that it will allow us, by understanding these mechanisms, (…) to improve and limit the harmfulness of lighters when [ils vont] find themselves in the environment.”
After having immersed these lighters for a year in the Mediterranean, the researchers were able to entrust the industrialist with valuable data. “We noticed that, all the same, certain dyes had a much greater impact than others, confides François Clément-Grandcourt. Typically, this color [le jaune] has a relatively significant impact compared to the rest, so this color, we stopped it. We no longer want to have colors in the range that would be impactful or too impactful compared to what we can obtain from other dyes.”
Combination of skills, scientific innovations, multiplication of association actions, so many large-scale initiatives carried out in the Mediterranean to try to reconcile nature and human action, and which suggest a possible reduction in marine pollution.
* The documentary The sentinels of the Mediterranean, directed by Frédéric Fougea, is broadcast at 10:50 p.m. on France 2 on Tuesday April 12.