There’s Garbage In The Deepest, Most Remote Parts Of The Ocean

There’s Garbage In The Deepest, Most Remote Parts Of The Ocean

Our planet’s oceans are huge and mysterious, and there are still stretches of the ocean floor that remain unexplored. But that doesn’t mean they’re pristine and untouched: a new study found even the deepest, most remote areas of the oceans contain man-made litter. As a species, we’re just a bunch of slobs.

An international team of researchers led by the Institute of Marine Research’s Christopher Pham performed the most extensive survey of the ocean floor yet, using remotely-operated camera vehicles and trawling nets to check for trash in 32 sites ranging from the Arctic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. In 588 separate surveys, the team found man-made trash every single time.

The highest density of trash was found in deep-sea caverns, and that rubbish travelled far: the team found garbage 2000km from the shore, with junk showing up in the very remote Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone. They also detected garbage in the Cascais Canyon off of Lisbon, Portugal, a region 5km deep.

The garbage observed included fishing nets, beer cans, food packaging, and even a toilet, although plastic was by far the most prevalent material. That poses a particular hazard, since deep sea creatures often die from mistakenly eating plastic.

Humans: we really need to clean up our act. [PlosOne via El Mundo]

Pictures: Christopher Pham, et al