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'We're Piling Our Crap' in the Ocean's Depths

Shrimp in the deepest ocean trenches found to be contaminated by plastic
By Richard Kemeny,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2019 10:30 AM CST
Plastic bottles and other plastics including a mop, lie washed up on the north bank of the River Thames in London.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

(Newser) – With more than 300 million tons of plastics produced each year, it's perhaps no surprise that some has made its way to the bottom of the world’s oceans. New deep-sea research published in the Royal Society Open Science journal has pulled up fragments of plastics in the deepest parts of the sea, showing that manmade pollution "reaches into the bowels of the planet," reports Phys.org. Scientists found plastic contamination in tiny shrimp that live between 19,500 to 36,000 feet below the surface, in six of the world’s deep ocean trenches. Plastic is "consistently found in animals all around the Pacific at extraordinary depths," says researcher Alan Jamieson. Particles were found in 100% of samples taken from the Mariana Trench. "It's everywhere."

The impact of surface plastics, vis a vis choking birds, dolphins, and whales, is widely known. But the problem is even more profound, per the Guardian. The deeper the region, the more plastic was found, so, as Jamieson puts it, "even if not a single fiber were to enter the sea from this point forward, everything that's in the sea now is going to eventually sink, and once it's in the deep sea where is the mechanism to get it back? We are piling all our crap into the place we know least about." The research team said it was almost impossible to know what the effects of plastic ingestion may be having on these little animals, as the particles seem to be blocking them. "The equivalent would be for you to swallow a [6.5-foot] polypropylene rope and expect that not to have an adverse effect on your health," Jamieson explains. (Scientists made another scary observation in the Mariana Trench.)

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