A new report found the highest concentration of microplastics on the seafloor. It found a whopping 1.9 million pieces of plastic per square meter. The report highlighted the fact that there are multiple hotspots on the seafloor where microplastic accumulation is higher than average.
Many people believe that most of the plastic is on the surface of the ocean. And it’s not hard to see why when the Great Pacific Garbage Patch exists at 3 times the size of France. However, that is a very incorrect assumption.
In reality, only 1% of the plastic that enters the ocean is seen on the surface. The other 99% of all plastic is below, which makes it extremely difficult to get a fair assessment of just how much plastic is in our ocean.
Just like on the surface, where plastic accumulates at specific points due to the currents, the same happens on the seafloor. The report dubs these as Microplastic Hotspots.
The report found that microplastics are transported to the seafloor by turbidity currents. These are essentially an underwater avalanche, which is caused when an earthquake or any type of seismic activity knocks rocks or mud loose on a slope.
And just like normal currents are predictable, underwater ones are as well. This allows researchers to determine where these hotspots are located.
Microplastics are Dangerous
Plastic is relatively inert. That is why it takes hundreds of years to break down naturally. However, microplastics are extremely small. These are able to find their way into literally anything.
As a result, micro-organisms and bottom feeders will regularly consume them. This eventually makes its way up to the largest sea creatures and even humans. In fact, it is extremely normal to find plastic within a fish’s stomach.
Scientists are still studying the effects of microplastics on humans, but one thing is certain, plastic is not in your recommended diet.