Sea creatures living in the deepest ocean trenches have been found with pieces of plastic in their guts, according to a new research that has been published last February 27.
Deep-sea exploration are known to be expensive and time-consuming, which explains why most of the studies on plastic pollution had been surface-level only. This led to more studies and discoveries on plastic contamination among fishes, turtles, whales and sea birds.
But a group of British researchers plunged under the sea, deeper than previous ones, and discovered that even tiny shrimps ingested plastic in six of the world’s deepest ocean trenches, according to a report by Channel News Asia.
According to the report, 100 percent of animals in the Mariana Trench east of the Philippines, which is the deepest depression on Earth, had plastic fragments in their digestive tracts.
“Half of me was expecting to find something but that is huge,” Alan Jamieson, from Newcastle University’s School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, told Channel News Asia.
At least five trillion pieces of plastic goes into the oceans as 300 million tons of plastics are produced every year.
Jamieson’s team went to search for animals in the deepest oceans in Japan, New Zealand, and Peru and found every sea creature digested plastic. His team had dissected 90 creatures and found at least one microparticle in 65 of them.
According to the study, which has been published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, it was unclear if the plastic particles were ingested by fish at higher depths, died and sank. But once the fibers were analyzed, “they found that the plastics’ atomic bonds had shifted compared to brand new material, suggesting they were several years old.”
The team of researchers had cautioned that it was nearly impossible to figure out how plastic ingestion affects the animal species dwelling at the deep seas.
“These particles could just pass straight through the animal, but in the animals we looked at they must be blocking them. The equivalent would be for you to swallow a 2-metre polypropylene rope and expect that not to have an adverse affect on your health,” Jamieson added. “There’s no good aspect to this.”