Plastic trash is thought to be more insidious than initially thought, as microplastics have been found to be everywhere on the seafloor. An article in The Guardian in the UK points out that more than 30 times the volume of plastic thought to be in the water column has settled on the seafloor. Microplastics are defined as plastic pieces that measure 5 millimeters or less and are particularly problematic because they can be ingested by marine life and can cause physical blockages as well as chemically reactive problems for organisms.
The Guardian article cites Australia’s government science agency, CSIRO, which gathered and analyzed cores of the ocean floor taken at remote sites off the country’s southern coast. Researchers analyzed 51 samples and found that each gram of sediment contained an average of 1.26 microplastic pieces. The problem is only getting worse as the world’s dependence on single-use plastic far outstrips recycling programs.
Learn more about the research in this article in Frontiers in Marine Science.