1. The ocean in a worldwide pandemic As the year that challenged the world with a widespread pandemic draws to a close, COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of life as we knew it. Even the ocean, the most powerful force in the world, is not immune to its effects. The amount of marine plastic pollution, 13 million tons of which was already entering the ocean each year, has certainly grown with the addition of improperly disposed personal protective equipment, such as single-use masks and gloves. People are using an estimated 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves every month; one report predicts that 1.56 billion face masks could end up in the ocean this year. State and city rollbacks on bans of plastic items like bags and utensils due to concern over spreading the virus via reusable options could contribute as well. The influx of yet more plastic to the sea not only poses a threat to human health, but also heightens the risk of injury or death to some 600 wildlife species that may consume debris they mistake for food. On a brighter note, the early days of the pandemic provided a rare opportunity to study a quieter underwater habitat resulting from reduced worldwide trade. Researchers examined underwater sound in real-time near the port of Vancouver and found a consistent reduction in low-frequency sound attributed to ship traffic from January to April, when imports and exports dropped 20%. This study and others are providing much-anticipated evidence about…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer