Estuaries are ecological and economic powerhouses, even if they lack the drama and popular appeal of the oceans and rivers for which they serve as go-between. They have been described as “super” ecosystems, providing shelter to countless species of birds, fish and mammals, also serving as vital ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems that mitigate the effects of climatechange. In addition, South Africa’s nearly 300 estuaries are said to contribute billions to the economy. But in a new study in which she looked at four local estuaries, Prof Anusha Rajkaran of the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at University of the Western Cape found that pollution by microplastics is threatening the wellbeing of these vital resources. Researchers conclude that South African estuaries could be considered moderately to highly #polluted when compared to countries such as Singapore, China and even the UK. These are issues to be addressed urgently as plastic consumption ticks up in South Africa.
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
Faculty of Natural Sciences
Professor Anusha Rajkaran