A new study headed by The National Oceanography Center reveals that the seafloor is awash with human rubbish. Bottles, plastic bags, fishing nets and other types of human litter are not only floating on the water’s surface but also sinking to the deepest ocean depths. The survey was conducted from the Mediterranean to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which is 2,000 kilometers from land.
The report’s shocking results show just how serious the rubbish problem has become. Areas like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch highlight the issue on a vast scale, but when smaller parts are consumed by marine life or entangle the likes of coral and fish, then the problem goes much deeper.
The international study led by the University of the Azores involved 15 organizations across Europe. It was a collaboration between the Mapping the Deep Project (led by Plymouth University) and the European Union-funded HERMIONE Project, coordinated by the National Oceanography Center. Scientists from the group gathered nearly 600 samples from across the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans and in the Mediterranean Sea at depths ranging from 35 meters to 4.5 kilometers.
Mr Christopher Pham, from the University of the Azores said “We found that plastic was the most common litter item found on the seafloor, while trash associated with fishing activities (discarded fishing lines and nets) was particularly common on seamounts, banks, mounds and ocean ridges. The most dense accumulations of litter were found in deep underwater canyons.”
Dr Kerry Howell, Associate Professor at Plymouth University’s Marine Institute said “This survey has shown that human litter is present in all marine habitats, from beaches to the most remote, and deepest parts of the oceans. Most of the deep sea remains unexplored by humans and these are our first visits to many of these sites, but we were shocked to find that our rubbish has got there before us.”
Litter was located at each site surveyed, with plastic accounting for 41 percent and derelict fishing gear 34 percent. Glass and metal, wood, paper/cardboard, clothing, pottery, and unidentified materials were also observed. Dr Howell added: “The large quantity of litter reaching the deep ocean floor is a major issue worldwide. Our results highlight the extent of the problem and the need for action to prevent increasing accumulation of litter in marine environments.”
Via The Guardian