Plastic Bag Found in Truly Depressing Spot

Not even the bottom of the Mariana Trench is safe from our trash
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2018 10:45 AM CDT
In One of Planet's Most Remote Spots, a Plastic Bag
This April 22, 2016, image made available by NOAA shows a plastic bag found at the Enigma Seamount during dives that took place between 820 feet and 3.7 miles deep.   (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research via AP)

(Newser) – "Single-use plastic reached the world's deepest ocean trench at 10,898 m," states the study plainly, referring to that great scourge: the plastic bag. National Geographic reports that a review of the Deep-Sea Debris Database, an assemblage of photos and videos taken during roughly 5,000 dives conducted over three decades, revealed a plastic bag at the ocean's deepest point, a depth of nearly 36,000 feet in the Mariana Trench. "More like Mariana Trash," quips ScienceAlert. A UN article on the study broke down the numbers: Those 5,000 dives captured more than 3,400 pieces of garbage. While rubber, metal, and cloth were spotted, 33% of debris found was plastic, and 89% of it was from single-use products that, as the name suggests, are used once then tossed.

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At depths of 20,000 feet or greater, plastic became more dominant, making up more than half the garbage, with nearly all of it being single-use. And the plastic wasn't exclusively found in lifeless areas. "Deep-sea organisms were observed in the 17% of plastic debris images, which include entanglement of plastic bags," per the study, which cites sea anemones, ray-finned fish, and brittle stars seen attached on plastics. "Entanglement of plastic bags [was] detected even in the cold seep communities and its negative impact on these rare ecosystems is [concerning]," continues the study published in Marine Policy. As for how it got there, National Geographic references a 2017 study that found much of it enters the sea via 10 rivers that traverse population-dense areas. (A 2-ton whale was no match for plastic bags.)

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