Researchers have discovered the highest ever concentration of micoplastics on the ocean floor. This disaster was found in the Mediterranean Sea, close to Italy.
In a study published in Science, the scientists said that they uncovered 1.9 million pieces of microplasic in about 11 square feet, or about 1 square meter, of the seafloor.
Researchers from @OfficialUoM have found the highest ever level of microplastic in the deep ocean, with 1.9 million pieces covering just one square metre https://t.co/SBMWYV9Usb pic.twitter.com/oqhCnVeH41
— UoM News (@UoMNews) April 30, 2020
According to the University of Manchester, 99% of plastic that enters the ocean ends up on the ocean floor and it has been unknown, until now, where that plastic ended up. They said that the recent research conducted by The University of Manchester, National Oceanography Centre (UK), University of Bremen (Germany), IFREMER (France) and Durham University (UK) explained that the deep-sea currents play the role of a makeshift conveyor belt, moving small peices of plastic (or microplastics) along the floor of the ocean.
“These currents can concentrate microplastics within huge sediment accumulations, which they have deemed ‘microplastic hotspots’. These hotspots appear to be the deep-sea equivalents of the so-called ‘garbage patches’ formed by currents on the ocean surface,” said The University of Manchester in a statement.
Once plastic is in the ocean, it either settles or is moved by ‘episodic tubidity currents (which the University describes as underwater avalanches). These currents take the plastics to the deep sea. ‘Bottom currents’ on the ocean floor are freely flowing, and they carry the microplastics further, too.
The lead author of the study, Dr Ian Kane of The University of Manchester said: “Almost everybody has heard of the infamous ocean ‘garbage patches’ of floating plastic, but we were shocked at the high concentrations of microplastics we found in the deep-seafloor.
Dr Mike Clare of the National Oceanography Centre, co-lead on the research, said that the study is proof that action should be taken soon. “The results highlight the need for policy interventions to limit the future flow of plastics into natural environments and minimise impacts on ocean ecosystems,” he said.