Quantcast

Australian Researchers: 'We Found Evidence of Microplastics Pretty Much Everywhere We Looked'

Editor's Pick
www.youtube.com

A lot of attention is paid to the floating junkyards on our high seas, but a new study highlights how the problem of marine plastic goes much deeper.

Australian researchers were surprised to find high concentrations of microplastics embedded in the seafloor along the southeast coast of Australia.


Scientists with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies sampled marine sediments at 42 locations from Adelaide to Sydney and discovered these tiny particles at every location, from busy city harbors to seemingly pristine locations.

On average the team found 3.4 items of microplastics per milliliter of sediment. The highest concentration of microplastic pollution was from Bicheno, a fishing and beach town on Tasmania's east coast, with 12 microplastic filaments per milliliter of sediment. Results from the study was published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.

"Regardless of where we were, we found evidence of microplastics pretty much everywhere we looked," said marine biologist and lead researcher Scott Ling. "Even some very remote areas we found levels of microplastics up to more than 10 items of per milliliter of sediment."

Microplastics are created by the fragmentation of larger pieces of plastic in the ocean. The debris is also carried into the waters after getting sloughed off synthetic fabrics in the washing machine.

The research suggests that the issue of plastic pollution is spread throughout the marine environment.

"In other studies it is estimated that 70 percent of marine litter is expected to sink to the seafloor and enter marine sediments," Ling told Xinhua.

"But while the huge volume of plastic debris accumulating in the world's oceans and on beaches has received global attention, the amount of plastic accumulating on the seafloor is relatively unknown."

The study also suggests a high potential for microplastic ingestion.

"There are a lot of species that can consume plastics. Not only do we see larger animals being entangled in plastics but microplastics in particular can be ingested by a range of sea creatures," Ling said.

"Exactly how this impacts those populations of animals and the broader ecosystem is yet to be determined but the samples that we have taken the last 18 months are really a first step in showing that we have very high loads of plastics in the environment and therefore we really need to determine exactly what sort of impact this is having on this marine system."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sam Cooper

By Sam Cooper

Thomas Edison once said, "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!"

Read More Show Less
A NOAA research vessel at a Taylor Energy production site in the Gulf of Mexico in September 2018. NOAA

The federal government is looking into the details from the longest running oil spill in U.S. history, and it's looking far worse than the oil rig owner let on, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Damage at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from the 2016 occupation. USFWS

By Tara Lohan

When armed militants with a grudge against the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon back in the winter of 2016, I remember avoiding the news coverage. Part of me wanted to know what was happening, but each report I read — as the occupation stretched from days to weeks and the destruction grew — made me so angry it was hard to keep reading.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Computer model projection of temperature anomalies across Europe on June 27. Temperature scale in °C. Tropicaltidbits.com

A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with Germany, France and Belgium experiencing extreme temperatures that are set to continue in the coming days.

Read More Show Less
Skull morphology of hybrid "narluga" whale. Nature / Mikkel Høegh Post

In the 1980s, a Greenlandic subsistence hunter shot and killed a whale with bizarre features unlike any he had ever seen before. He knew something was unique about it, so he left its abnormally large skull on top of his toolshed where it rested until a visiting professor happened upon it a few years later.

Read More Show Less
A house under construction with plastic bottles filled with sand to build shelters that better withstand the climate of the country where temperatures reach up to 50° C Awserd in the Saharawi refugee camp Dakhla on Dec. 31, 2018 in Tindouf, Algeria. Stefano Montesi / Corbis / Getty Images

A UN expert painted a bleak picture Tuesday of how the climate crisis could impact global inequality and human rights, leading to a "climate apartheid" in which the rich pay to flee the consequences while the rest are left behind.

Read More Show Less