Scientists from Australia have calculated the number of microplastics on the ocean floor. It turned out that their number is several times greater than previously thought.
15 million tonnes of microplastics have settled in the deep ocean, according to a new report from the Australian National Science Agency. This is more than double the amount of plastic pollution on the ocean surface. Researchers took samples of seabed sediment at locations hundreds of kilometers from Australia’s coastline. They found that the number of microplastics was much higher than expected.
Based on this data, they calculated how widely microplastics can be distributed in ocean sedimentary rocks around the world. Preliminary research has shown that millions of tons of plastic enter the ocean every year.
Scientists acknowledge that pollution is an important environmental issue, but little is known about the accumulation of plastics on the ocean floor and how it can affect marine life and ecosystems. This is especially true for microplastics; According to the National Oceanic Survey, plastic particles are less than 5 millimeters long.
“The extent to which microplastics contaminate the ocean floor is poorly known,” said study co-author Denise Hardesty, chief scientist at the Australian Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), the government agency responsible for scientific research.
Scientists explain that such research is very difficult and expensive, so few scientists take samples at the depths of the oceans. However, understanding how much microplastics ends up on the seabed is essential to predict the distribution and potential impact of global pollution.