Latest Survey Shows That Our Ocean Floors Are Covered In Garbage
A major new survey of the seafloor has found a shocking amount of litter.
A major new survey of the seafloor has found a shocking amount of litter. This garbage, which consists of bottles, plastic bags, fishing nets, and whatever else you can think of, was found throughout the Mediterranean and reaching all the way to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge — a distance of over 2,000 miles.
Litter accumulation in our marine environments is one of the fastest growing threats for the world's ocean health. We dump over 6.4 million tonnes of litter in the oceans each year — and the effects are serious.
Aside from the ugliness of it all, litter can be mistaken for food items and be ingested by a wide variety of marine organisms. Animals can also get caught in fishing gear, a problem faced by various mammals, turtles, and birds.
"We found that plastic was the most common litter item found on the seafloor, while trash associated with fishing activities (discarded fishing lines and nets) was particularly common on seamounts, banks, mounds and ocean ridges," noted Christopher Pham from the University of the Azores in a statement. "The most dense accumulations of litter were found in deep underwater canyons."
The researchers discovered litter at each site surveyed, with plastic accounting for 41% and derelict fishing gear 34%. Glass and metal, wood, paper/cardboard, clothing, pottery, and unidentified materials were also observed. Much of the plastic originates from coastal and land sources, and are carried along continental shelves and slopes into deep water.