Scientists Find Highest Ever Level of Micro-plastics on Seafloor
An international research project has revealed the highest levels of micro-plastic ever recorded on the seafloor, with up to 1.9 million pieces in a thin layer covering just one square meter.
Over 10 million tons of plastic waste enters the oceans each year. Floating plastic waste at sea has caught the public’s interest thanks to the ‘Blue Planet Effect’ seeing moves to discourage the use of plastic drinking straws and carrier bags. Yet such accumulations account for less than 1% of the plastic that enters the world’s oceans.
The missing 99% is instead thought to occur in the deep ocean, but until now it has been unclear where it actually ended up. Published this week in the journal Science, the research conducted by; The University of Manchester, National Oceanography Centre (UK), University of Bremen (Germany), IFREMER (France) and Durham University (UK) showed how deep-sea currents act as conveyor belts, transporting tiny plastic fragments and fibers across the seafloor.
These currents can concentrate micro-plastics within huge sediment accumulations, which they termed ‘micro-plastic hotspots’. These hotspots appear to be the deep-sea equivalents of the so-called ‘garbage patches’ formed by currents on the ocean surface.
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