Plastic Pollution Has Reached The Deepest Parts Of The Oceans

Posted: Nov 17 2017, 8:01am CST | by , Updated: Nov 17 2017, 8:04am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Plastic Pollution has Reached the Deepest Parts of the Oceans
A fiber was found in the body of a crustacean from the Mariana Trench. Credit: Newcastle University

It is highly likely there are no marine ecosystems left that are not impacted by anthropogenic debris, says study

Humans dump tons of plastic into the oceans every year. Now this garbage has reached the deepest depths of the oceans and can damage the health of marine life.

For the first time, researchers have found bits of man-made plastic and fiber in the stomachs of animals living in the deepest chasms of our oceans. These chasms range from 7 to 10 kilometers deep. Even the deepest point of Mariana Trench that lies a staggering 10,890 meters deep is clogged with plastic pollution.

“The results were both immediate and startling. This type of work requires a great deal of contamination control but there were instances where the fibers could actually be seen in the stomach contents as they were being removed.” Lead researcher Dr Alan Jamieson from Newcastle University said in a statement.

The study involved 90 individual crustaceans from deep chasms across Pacific Ocean and the examination showed that plastic bits were found in the guts of animals living at 32,800 feet in the Kermadec Trench to as far down as 33,600 feet in the north Pacific Mariana Trench. The findings suggest that he levels of microplastic particles accumulating in the oceans are much worse than expected.

“Deep-sea organisms are dependent on food raining down from the surface, which in turn brings any adverse components, such as plastic and pollutants with it. This study has shown that manmade microfibers are culminating and accumulating in an ecosystem inhabited by species we poorly understand, cannot observe experimentally and have failed to obtain baseline data for prior to contamination.” explain Dr Jamieson.

“These observations are the deepest possible record of microplastic occurrence and ingestion, indicating it is highly likely there are no marine ecosystems left that are not impacted by anthropogenic debris.”

The plastic debris in the oceans is estimated to measure 300 million tons while more than 3 trillion pieces are currently floating on the surface. The plastic debris is expected to accumulate in coming years.

“Litter discarded into the oceans will ultimately end up washed back ashore or sinking to the deep-sea, there are no other options.Once these plastics reach the deep-seafloor there is simply nowhere else for them to go, therefore it is assumed they will simply accumulate in greater quantities,” said Dr Jamieson

“This is a very worrying find. Isolating plastic fibers from inside animals from nearly 11 kilometers deep (7 miles) just shows the extent of the problem. Also, the number of areas we found this in, and the thousands of kilometer distances involved shows it is not just an isolated case, this is global.”

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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