6 Oct 2020 - Guardian UK - Thirty times more plastic on ocean floor than surface, analysis suggests, but more trapped on land than sea. Analysis of ocean sediments from as deep as 3km suggests there could be more than 30 times as much plastic at the bottom of the world’s ocean than there is floating at the surface.
Australia’s government science agency, CSIRO, gathered and analysed cores of the ocean floor taken at six remote sites about 300km off the country’s southern coast in the Great Australian Bight.
Researchers looked at 51 samples and found that after excluding the weight of the water, each gram of sediment contained an average of 1.26 microplastic pieces.
Microplastics are 5mm or less in diameter and are mostly the result of larger plastic items breaking apart into ever smaller pieces.
Stemming the tide of plastic entering the world’s waterways and ocean has emerged as a major international challenge.
Dr Denise Hardesty, a principal research scientist at CSIRO and a co-author of the research published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, told the Guardian that finding microplastic in such a remote location and at such depths “points to the ubiquity of plastics, no matter where you are in the world”.“This means it’s throughout the water column.
This gives us pause for thought about the world we live in and the impact of our consumer habits on what’s considered a most pristine place,” she said.
“We need to make sure the big blue is not a big trash pit. This is more evidence that we need to stop this at the source.