Mariana Trench Sets Record For World’s Deepest Plastic Bag At 10,898m

Mariana Trench Sets Record For World’s Deepest Plastic Bag At 10,898m
Image: Ben Mierement, NOAA NOS (ret.)

Plastic bags have become a scourge on the environment, finding their way into Earth’s every nook and cranny. If you ever needed a reminder of just how insidious they can be, look no further than Japan’s Deep-sea Debris Database. Not only does it contain plastic bag almost 10,900m deep, but a photo of the bloody thing.

The publicly accessible database, maintained by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, includes the entry for the world’s deepest piece of plastic rubbish.

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It was located all the way back in 1998, with Japan’s Kaiko ROV snapping a photo (and some video) 10,898m below the surface of the Mariana Trench.

Which is astonishing, when you consider the Trench is 10,994m at its deepest.

A new paper, entitled “Human footprint in the abyss: 30 year records of deep-sea plastic debris”, goes into a lot more detail about the contents of the database and specifically mentions the errant bag:

Debris items were observed in areas deeper than 4000m in the western and eastern North Pacific, South Pacific and North Atlantic. The maximum depth record of plastic debris was a plastic bag at 10898m in the Mariana Trench in the western North Pacific.

In terms of horizontal distribution, plastic debris as well as non-plastic debris reached the open sea over 1000km off the coast.

If you’d like to check the bag out yourself, here are some directions. Note you’ll have to provide your own transport, accommodation and well… some sort of submersible.

Probably best to reiterate the photo was taken 20 years ago, so the bag’s likely moved on from now. Who knows, it might be even deeper.