While plastics are most commonly seen in shallow ocean waters or discussion generally surrounds areas such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it’s important to not forget that plastic is literally in every part of our ocean, even the deepest depths.
A recent study published in Royal Society Open Science has found examples of microplastics in animals living in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the worlds oceans at 7 miles under the sea surface.
The team studied 90 deep-dwelling shrimp for microplastic contamination from six ocean trenches around the Pacific Rim. Unfortunately, even though these marine animals live miles under the surface from humans irresponsible habits of plastic usage, they still cannot escape.
“Half of me was expecting to find something but that is huge,” Alan Jamieson, from Newcastle University’s School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, said in a statement. Jamieson also added that majority of man-made items found in the shrimp were clothes fabrics such as nylon.
The research revealed that 72 percent of the shrimp tested contained at least one plastic micro particle with some containing up to eight particles. Every trench investigated had marine animals with plastic inside of them but the results did vary depending on how frequent plastic was found in the shrimp. For example, in the Mariana Trench, 100 percent of shrimp examined contained plastics while the shrimp from the New Hebrides Trench came out at a 50 percent rate.
“We are piling all our crap into the place we know least about,” Jamieson said, adding that it is hard to know how exactly it was affecting the creatures it contaminated. These particles could just pass straight through the animal, but in the animals we looked at they must be blocking them,” he continued.
While humans addiction to using plastic and continuing to dispose of it irresponsibly continues, the planets oceans will feel it the most. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish while many marine organisms can’t distinguish common plastic items from food. Animals who eat plastic often starve because they can’t digest the plastic and it fills their stomachs, preventing them from eating real food
We need to bring this issue to the forefront of discussion and you can help do that by saying no to single-use plastics in your own life and secondly, petitioning your local businesses and governments to reduce plastic usage or promote laws that prohibit usage.