The world’s first estimate of microplastics on the seafloor, from CSIRO, Australia’s national scientific agency, suggests that there are 14 million tons in the depths of the oceanor. This is more than twice the amount of plastic pollution estimated at the ocean’s surface.
Justine Barrett of CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere, who led the study, said the research largeour understanding of the amount of plastic pollution on our oceans and the impact of plastic items, both large and small.
“The plastic pollution that ends up in the ocean deteriorates and breaks down, ending up as microplastics,” Barrett said. “Our research provides the first global estimate of the amount of microplastics in the seabed. Even the depths of the ocean are susceptible to the problem of plastic pollution. The results show that microplastics are sinking to the bottom of the ocean. “
Will increase in the coming years
Millions of tons of plastic enter the marine environment annually, and quantities are expected to increase in the coming years, despite increased attention to the detrimental impacts of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems, wildlife, and human health.
The samples used in this study were collected using a robotic submarine in depths of up to 3,000 meters at sites up to 380 kilometers off the coast of South Australia. The amount of microplastics recorded was 25 times greater than that of previous deep-sea studies.
Based on the results of the densities of plastic from the deep sea and expanding the size of the ocean, we calculated a global estimate of microplastics on the seafloor.
A sink of microplastics
Dr. Denise Hardesty, lead scientific researcher and co-author, said that plastic pollution of the world’s oceans is a troubleenvironmentalrecognized internationally, and the results indicate the urgent need to generate effective solutions for plastic pollution. “Our research found that the depths of the ocean are a sink of microplastics, “Hardesty said.
The number of microplastic fragments on the seafloor was generally higher in areas where there were also more garbagefloating. “We were surprised to see high loads of microplastics in such a remote location. By identifying where and how much microplastic there is, we get a better idea of the magnitude of the problem.
The samples used for this research were a complementary collection to a study of referenceofgeologyYecology deep sea project funded by CSIRO and the Great Australian Bight Marine Deep Sea Program (GABDMP). The GABDMP is a CSIRO-led research program sponsored by Chevron Australia, the generated data of which will be made available to the public.