Scientists have discovered a river of garbage-strewn water deep beneath the upper Thames Estuary in London. The research team from Royal Holloway, University of London and the Natural History Museum stumbled upon the plastic garbage stream when studying Chinese mitten crabs in the estuary. They believe that the garbage could prove harmful to area marine life, and it could even affect the North Sea, which the Thames empties into.
Over the course of three months, the scientists collected the streaming garbage using the same net used to catch crabs and fish for study. The garbage collected was primarily plastic-based, including cigarette packaging, food wrappers, plastic cups and sanitary products. A total of 8,000 pieces of trash were removed from the estuary over the three months, some lurking below the surface and hovering in areas where fish, crabs and other marine life live. Sadly, the pieces collected are only a fraction of the plastic refuse that lurks below the surface. Results from the study were published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.
The surprising discovery of this underwater litter will alter how scientists predict the effects of surface pollution on wildlife and the environment. The submerged plastic muck moves up and down stream with the tides, slowly breaking down into small pieces, while releasing toxic chemicals. Its presence indicates a deeper pollution problem for London, which was previously not visible to the eye. Scientists are pushing for policy changes to create more awareness of the dangers of plastic.
Via Phys Org
Images ©Kevin Krejci