New Study: 15.5 Million Tons of Microplastics Litter Ocean Floor
Microplastics can be found everywhere from Antarctica to the Pyrenees. A significant amount of plastic waste ends up in the ocean, but very little has been known about how much ends up on the ocean floor — until now.
A new study has found that the ocean floor contains nearly 15.5 tons of microplastics, CNN reported.
Researchers from Australia's government science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), examined microplastics on the ocean floor near the Great Australian Bight, a large expanse that comprises the bulk of the country's southwest coastline.
The researchers used a robotic submarine to gather and analyze samples taken from six locations up to 236 miles off the coast, and up to almost 10,000 feet deep, reported CNN.
The results, which were published Monday in Frontiers in Marine Science, revealed about 35 times more plastic at the bottom of the ocean than floating at the surface. In 51 samples taken between March and April 2017, researchers found an average of 1.26 microplastic pieces per gram of sediment, a concentration that's up to 25 times greater than any previous deep-sea study, CNN reported.
"Plastic pollution that ends up in the ocean deteriorates and breaks down, ending up as microplastics," Justine Barrett from CSIRO's Oceans and Atmosphere, who led the study, said in a statement in CNN. "The results show microplastics are indeed sinking to the ocean floor."
Dr. Denise Hardesty, a principal research scientist at CSIRO and a co-author of the research, told The Guardian that finding microplastics in such remote locations and depths reveals the extent of global plastic pollution.
"This means it's throughout the water column. This gives us pause for thought about the world we live in and the impact of our consumer habits on what's considered a most pristine place," Dr. Hardesty told The Guardian. "We need to make sure the big blue is not a big trash pit. This is more evidence that we need to stop this at the source."
- Microplastics Found in Human Organs for First Time - EcoWatch ›
- Microplastics in Oceans Outnumber Stars in Our Galaxy by 500 Times ›
- Paint: The Big Source of Ocean Microplastics You Didn't Know About ›
By Brett Wilkins
One hundred seconds to midnight. That's how close humanity is to the apocalypse, and it's as close as the world has ever been, according to Wednesday's annual announcement from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a group that has been running its "Doomsday Clock" since the early years of the nuclear age in 1947.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Scientists Discover New Population of Endangered Blue Whales ... ›
- Endangered Blue Whales Make 'Unprecedented' Comeback to ... ›
- Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale Calves Spotted Off Coast ... ›
- Only 366 Endangered Right Whales Are Alive: New NOAA Report ... ›
By Yoram Vodovotz and Michael Parkinson
The majority of Americans are stressed, sleep-deprived and overweight and suffer from largely preventable lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Being overweight or obese contributes to the 50% of adults who suffer high blood pressure, 10% with diabetes and additional 35% with pre-diabetes. And the costs are unaffordable and growing. About 90% of the nearly $4 trillion Americans spend annually for health care in the U.S. is for chronic diseases and mental health conditions. But there are new lifestyle "medicines" that are free that doctors could be prescribing for all their patients.
Taking an unconventional approach to conduct the largest-ever poll on climate change, the United Nations' Development Program and the University of Oxford surveyed 1.2 million people across 50 countries from October to December of 2020 through ads distributed in mobile gaming apps.
- Guardian/Vice Poll Finds Most 2020 Voters Favor Climate Action ... ›
- Climate Change Seen as Top Threat in Global Survey - EcoWatch ›
- The U.S. Has More Climate Deniers Than Any Other Wealthy Nation ... ›
By Tara Lohan
Fall used to be the time when millions of monarch butterflies in North America would journey upwards of 2,000 miles to warmer winter habitat.
A monarch butterfly caterpillar feeds on common milkweed on Poplar Island in Maryland. Photo: Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program, (CC BY-NC 2.0)