Scientists have found a record number of microplastics – 1.9 million particles per square meter. It is difficult to deal with it – the waste is quickly transported by deep-sea currents.
Every year, more than 10 million tons of plastic waste gets into the oceans, they explained. Nevertheless, large waste accounts for less than 1% of the total volume of garbage entering the oceans, the rest is microplastics, which are difficult to detect without special equipment.
Currents in the ocean can concentrate microplastics inside huge sedimentary clusters, which researchers call “microplastic hot spots.” These “points” are the deep-sea equivalents of “garbage spots” that can be found on the surface of the ocean.
“Almost everyone heard about the notorious garbage islands in the ocean, but we were shocked by the high concentration of microplastic that we found at the bottom”, said lead author of the study, Dr. Jan Kane of the University of Manchester.
An additional complication lies in the fact that microplastic is not evenly distributed over the study area – it is constantly moving by powerful sea currents. Basically, this microplastic consists of textile fibers and clothing – it is they that are ineffectively filtered at sewage treatment plants and easily fall into rivers and oceans.
In the ocean, they either slowly settle or can be quickly transported by episodic muddy currents – therefore it is difficult to deal with them. Once in the deep sea, microplastics can be concentrated in sedimentary rocks.