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14 million tonnes of microplastics on the seabed

According to a study by the Australian National Science Agency – CSIRO, which presented the first ever global estimate of microplastics on the seabed, there are as many as 14 million tonnes of such waste in the ocean depths. Interestingly, this is more than double the estimated amount of plastic pollution found on the ocean
Published: November 2, 2020 - 12:35
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:28
14 million tonnes of microplastics on the seabed

According to a study by the Australian National Science Agency – CSIRO, which presented the first ever global estimate of microplastics on the seabed, there are as many as 14 million tonnes of such waste in the ocean depths.

Interestingly, this is more than double the estimated amount of plastic pollution found on the ocean surface. In conclusion, the researchers stress that the study has expanded the state of knowledge about the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans and its impact on the environment.

The plastic pollution that ends up in the ocean is steadily getting worse. Regardless of the size of items made from plastic, the process always looks the same. The waste breaks down into smaller ones, ending up as microplastics, said Justine Barrett, CSIRO research project leader

A study has provided the first global estimate of the amount of microplastics found on the seabed. Even the deep ocean is affected, as evidenced by plastic objects found, for example, at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest place on Earth.

Millions of tonnes of plastic enter the marine environment every year and this is only expected to increase in the coming years. All this, despite increased attention on the harmful effects of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems, wildlife and human health.

The samples used in the surveys were collected using a remotely operated ROV that plunged to a maximum depth of 3,000 metres, in locations as far as 380 km off the south coast of Australia.

Research material from the ocean floor
Sample of test material taken from the bottom photo CSIRO

The amount of microplastics recorded in the samples taken was 25 times higher than in previous studies.

Based on deep-sea plastic density results and scaled up to ocean size, global microplastic pollution was calculated and estimated.

Dr Denise Hardesty, lead scientist and co-author of the study, said plastic pollution of the oceans is a globally recognised environmental problem and the results show the urgent need to develop effective solutions to the problem.

The study showed that the deep ocean is a veritable reservoir of microplastics. The number of microplastic fragments on the seabed was generally higher in areas where there was also more floating debris.

Photo: CSIRO

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About author

Marcin Pawełczyk
Marcin’s journey with diving has been an adventure. Starting as a recreational diver, he soon found himself drawn to the fascinating stories and mysteries of Baltic wrecks. After gaining experience, Marcin decided to go beyond just leisurely exploration and took his training up a notch by completing the TMX course, allowing him to explore even deeper and uncover the secrets of inaccessible places. His next challenge has been cave diving, where he is honing his skills to become a certified diver. Not content to simply take in the breathtaking beauty of underwater life, Marcin has also embraced underwater photography since 2018, capturing stunning shots that bring these worlds alive for those who are unable to experience them first-hand. Marcin’s passion for the underwater has taken him far and is sure to continue doing so as he dives into new depths and captures breathtaking images.
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