Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Plastic Trash Found in Ocean Animals Living 7 Miles Deep

Popular
Alain Bachellier / Flickr

Plastic trash can really be found on all corners of the Earth—even in the stomachs of deep-sea organisms, according to a new study from Newcastle University in England.

Led by Dr. Alan Jamieson, the researchers found microfibers in crustaceans from six of the deepest places on the planet, the Mariana, Japan, Izu-Bonin, Peru-Chile, New Hebrides and Kermadec trenches.


After examining 90 individual animals, the team found that ingestion of plastic ranged from 50 percent in the New Hebrides Trench to 100 percent at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

As the Guardian reported from the study, the tiny fibers shed off of larger products such as synthetic textiles, plastic bottles, fishing equipment and packaging.

“We published a study earlier this year showing high levels of organic pollutants in the very deepest seas and lots of people asked us about the presence of plastics, so we decided to have a look," Jamieson said in a news release from the university.

“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."

An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic gets dumped into our oceans annually, simultaneously contaminating our seas and harming marine life.

Jamieson said that finding plastic fibers inside animals from nearly 11 kilometers deep (7 miles) was "worrying" and shows the extent of the world's plastic pollution problem.

"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," he said.

The study was released Tuesday as part of the Sky Ocean Rescue campaign to raise awareness of how plastics and pollution affect the oceans.

The new research adds to the growing body of science that highlights how plastic pollution isn't just a problem on the ocean's surface. As Dr. Marcus Eriksen, the co-founder and research director of the 5 Gyres Institute, wrote back in 2015:

"The idea that there are 'patches' of trash in the oceans is a myth created 15 years ago that should be abandoned in favor of 'plastic smog,' like massive clouds of microplastics that emanate out of the five subtropical gyres. My recent publication in the journal Plos One, estimates 269,000 tons of plastic from 5.25 trillion particles, but more alarming than that is it's mostly microplastic ( > 92 percent in our study) and most of the plastic in the ocean is likely not on the sea surface."

Jamieson explained that deep-sea organisms are dependent on food coming down from the ocean surface.

"The deep sea is not only the ultimate sink for any material that descends from the surface, but it is also inhabited by organisms well adapted to a low food environment and these will often eat just about anything," he said.

"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."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Hospital workers applaud during a tribute to the essential health care workers at Hospital Universitario de Mostoles in Mostoles, Spain on March 27, 2020. Legan P. Mace / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

By Jennifer Cheavens and David Cregg

The world is currently in the midst of a pandemic where the most useful thing many of us can do is stay at home and keep away from others. Schools, restaurants, office buildings and movie theaters are closed. Many people are feeling disoriented, disconnected and scared.

Read More Show Less
Essential farm workers continue to work as Florida agriculture industry struggles during coronavirus pandemic. Joe Raedle / Getty Images.

By Liz Carlisle

This opinion piece was originally published by Yes! Magazine on March 30, 2020.

As the coronavirus crisis has laid bare, the U.S. urgently needs a strategic plan for farmland. The very lands we need to ensure community food security and resilience in the face of crises like this pandemic and climate change are currently being paved over, planted to chemically raised feed grains for factory farm animals, and acquired by institutional investors and speculators. For far too long, the fate of farmlands has flown under the radar of public dialogue—but a powerful new proposal from think tank Data for Progress lays out how a national strategic plan for farmland could help boost economic recovery while putting the U.S. on a path to carbon neutrality.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A worker with nonprofit organization Martha's Table loads bags of fresh produce to distribute to people in need during the novel coronavirus outbreak on April 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

By Shawn Radcliffe

The CDC recommends that all people wear cloth face masks in public places where it's difficult to maintain a 6-foot distance from others. This will help slow the spread of the virus from people without symptoms or people who do not know they have contracted the virus. Cloth face masks should be worn while continuing to practice social distancing. Instructions for making masks at home can be found here. Note: It's critical to reserve surgical masks and N95 respirators for healthcare workers.

Read More Show Less
Coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef in 2016. Oregon State University / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Great Barrier Reef's third mass bleaching event in five years is also its most widespread, according to new data released Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
The CDC has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Guido Mieth / Moment / Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective measures we can take in preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, millions of Americans in some of the most vulnerable communities face the prospect of having their water shut off during the lockdowns, according to The Guardian.

Read More Show Less