Scientists Just Found the Highest Level of Microplastics Ever Recorded on the Seafloor

Image for representation. Credits:  WWF.

Image for representation. Credits: WWF.

The fish you eat from the sea could be containing the very garbage you discarded.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 2, 2020, 3:03 PM IST
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As the coronavirus global pandemic grips the globe, stories of how nature is healing, waters running clearer, pollution levels dropping have made headlines.

But all's probably not well in the world. In a recent discovery, scientists found the highest levels of microplastics ever recorded on the seafloor.

Sediments from the bottom of the ocean floor of the Tyrrhenian Sea, part of the Mediterranean near Italy, showed up to 1.9 million plastic pieces per square metre.

This discovery brings light to the fact that deep-sea currents act as a medium to carry the microplastics to hotspots, very similar to "garbage patches" which are visible on the surface in parts of the Pacific, reports The Guardian.

"These currents build what are called drift deposits; think of underwater sand dunes," explained Dr Ian Kane, who fronted the international team.

"They can be tens of kilometres long and hundreds of metres high. They are among the largest sediment accumulations on Earth. They're made predominantly of very fine silt, so it's intuitive to expect microplastics will be found within them," he told BBC.

These hotspots also attract marine life, becoming breeding ground for them, who are also particularly prone to micro-plastic ingestion - meaning that the fish you eat from the sea could be containing the very garbage you discarded.

Once inside aquatic organisms, it is very easy to pass up the food chain and end up your plate, in turn, transferring the

Prof Elda Miramontes from the University of Bremen, Germany, who is a co-author on the Science journal paper describing the Mediterranean discovery, told BBC that the way to fight ocean plastic pollution has to be at the same pace that we are fighting the current global pandemic.

"We're all making an effort to improve our safety - changing our work life, or even stopping work. We're doing all this so that people are not affected by this sickness. We have to think in the same way when we protect our oceans," she said.

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