8.8 km, that’s how ‘tall’ Mt. Everest is. Now the Mariana Trench, western Pacific Ocean, can be found just short of 11 km below the waves, pretty deep – right? Well, according to a recent discovery, that ain’t deep enough to get away from plastic. The thought of plastic at literally the bottom of the ocean may not surprise some, considering the current global pollution situation, but for me, it does come as a surprise.
A record has just been etched into our collective history, as the world’s deepest plastic bag has been found by scientists at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The find was made 10,898m by scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology in Yokosuka and was one of 3,000 pieces of man-made debris dating back 30 years collected on the deep ocean exploration expedition.
Multiple teams representing different corners of the globe have collaborated, conducting over 5,000 deep-sea remote vehicle dives in efforts to trawl the very bottom of our ocean to understand what dwells beneath us. When going through the data collected it was found that roughly a 1/3rrd of the debris was microplastics of which 89% originated from single-use plastics. The full findings of the study have been published in the journal Marine Policy. It highlights how human activities are now affecting deep-sea ecosystems.
“There is growing concern that deep-sea ecosystems are already being damaged by direct exploitation of both biological and non-biological resources – through deep-sea trawling, mining and infrastructure development, for example.”
It wasn’t only plastic that was found by the probe, debris included metal, rubber, fishing gear, glass and various other man-made items.