Trash Clogs Deepest Ocean Location
When we started this blog last spring, we knew there was a major issue with the plastic pollution that was choking our oceans and coastlines. What we didn’t know at the time was just how deep this problem ran.
What this means is that our discarded plastics have made their way to the deepest point of ocean.
Wikipedia tells us the Mariana Trench, which is located in the western Pacific Ocean approximately 124 miles east of the Mariana Islands, boasts the deepest natural point in the world. Some measurements place the deepest portion at 36,201 feet. For comparison, if Mount Everest were dropped into the trench at this point, its peak would still be over 1.2 miles under water.
According to The Guardian, high levels of contamination in the Mariana Trench show how pervasively planet has been contaminated.
“Manmade plastics have contaminated the most remote and deepest places on the planet,” said Chinese researchers. “The hadal zone is likely one of the largest sinks for microplastic debris on Earth, with unknown but potentially damaging impacts on this fragile ecosystem.”
The Guardian feature notes, “Other recent studies have demonstrated the reach of human impacts into the Mariana Trench, with ‘extraordinary’ levels of pollutants being found there and plastic being found in stomachs of deep sea creatures.”
Researchers said the microplastics found in the Marianna Trench likely came from China, Japan and other industrialized Asian nations. Many of the microplastics have been traced to bottles, packaging and fishing gear.
The Guardian wrote: “Microplastics have been shown to harm sealife, which is already being damaged by overfishing and climate change. The researchers said: ‘Further work to evaluate the impacts of microplastics on fragile hadal ecosystems is urgently needed.’”
National Geographic echoed the concerns with a feature titled “Plastic Bag Found at the Bottom of World's Deepest Ocean Trench.”
The feature noted, “A recent study revealed that a plastic bag, like the kind given away at grocery stores, is now the deepest known piece of plastic trash, found at a depth of 36,000 feet inside the Mariana Trench. Scientists found it by looking through the Deep-Sea Debris Database, a collection of photos and videos taken from 5,010 dives over the past 30 years that was recently made public.”
A whopping 89 percent of the trash is single-use plastic found in water bottles and utensils.
Before you start to think the trench makes a good deep water landfill, chew on this:
“While the Mariana Trench may seem like a dark, lifeless pit, it hosts more life than you might think. [The] Okeanos Explorer vessel searched the region's depths in 2016 and found diverse life-forms, including species like coral, jellyfish, and octopus. The recent study also found that 17 percent of the images of plastic logged in the database showed interactions of some kind with marine life, like animals becoming entangled in the debris,” notes NatGeo.
It sad to think the planet is fast becoming a colossal garbage dump. Cleanup efforts are underway but it could take hundreds of years to bag all the plastic waste littering the planet. It doesn’t help that new items are being discarded in rapid-fire fashion.