Approximately 16 million tons of plastic particles are hidden under the ocean’s surface

Plastic waste to her It has long been a visible – and growing – problem in oceans around the world, With litter strewn on the shores of the pristine beaches, which extend across a large expanse of the sea in Greater Pacific Waste Zonepalm Threatening marine life that ingest it.

A new report offers a glimpse into one of the impacts below the ocean’s surface: the volume of microplastics that build up on the ocean floor. What the researchers called it The first such global recognition, The Australian National Science Agency says 9.25 to 15.87 million tons of microplastics – fragments ranging in size from five millimeters to a micrometer – are embedded in the sea floor.

That’s much more than on the ocean surface which is the equivalent of 18 to 24 shopping bags filled with tiny plastic shrapnel for every foot of coastline on every continent except Antarctica.

It’s an issue that activists have long warned about, even as the fight to clean up the ocean has focused heavily on eliminating single-use plastic products such as shopping bags.

The results were published on Monday in Prof. New study By the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or CSIRO

It really indicates that the problem is spreading all over the place. “It’s really all over the place all the time and it’s growing,” Britta Denise Hardesti, lead scientist at CSIRO and author of the study, said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Micro plastics aren’t confined to the ocean. It is also found in Air molecules It could be Spread by the wind. a Variety of microplastics It was discovered in the human gut.

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In the last years, Hundreds of plastic things They are found in The stomachs of dead whales around the world.

While cities banned plastic bags and straws, the The use of single-use plastic packaging has soared amid the coronavirus pandemic With increasing consumer interest in hygiene and pollution.

Over time, some plastics break down into smaller pieces and sink into the ocean. The more floating plastics do not sink on their own and either wash on beaches or end up in deeper water.

Microbes and colonies of mussels grow on floating plastic It often causes the entire mass to sink from the extra weight.

Dr Hardesty said the microplastics could be ingested by small plankton and fish on the sea floor. Once eaten by fish, microplastics can end up in the human food chain.

Dr Hardesty said the aim of the study was to establish a measure of the problem. She described it as the first of its kind.

Using a robotic submarine, scientists collected 51 samples of sand and sediment in deep waters in the Great Australian Bay in 2017, hundreds of miles offshore, and determined a global estimate based on the average number and size of particles.

The study found no plastic particles in some deep ocean sediments, but as many as 13.6 particles per gram in others, a number up to 25 times greater than what was found in Previous deep-sea studies of microplastics.

The scientists said they made conservative estimates to take into account the full range of samples. They also removed fibers or other materials from the count to rule out potential contamination of the samples.

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Dr Hardesty said it was important to prevent plastic from ending up in the ocean in the first place. She said she hopes pollution awareness will lead to more sustainable policies and behavior shifts.

“Most of what ends up in the oceans in people’s hands,” she said. “They can see that their behavior – their actions and their purchasing power – is very strong and that can lead to change.”

Harold Manning

"Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover."

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