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Study Shows More Micro-Plastic In Deep Ocean Than Previously Thought

High Rates Of Micro-Plastic In Deep Ocean Concerns Scientist The deep ocean, the largest habitat for life on Earth, is full of small particles of plastic, research from the...

(Photo Credit: TUNATURA/SHUTTERSTOCK)

High Rates Of Micro-Plastic In Deep Ocean Concerns Scientist

The deep ocean, the largest habitat for life on Earth, is full of small particles of plastic, research from the University of California at San Diego found. Microplastics–defined as tiny bits of plastic less than a few millimeters wide–were previously thought to float on the ocean’s surface. But the new research finds that microplastics are invading the deep ocean and affecting marine food chains.

The UC San Diego-affiliated Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute sent a robot, called Ventana, to the ocean floor to measure microplastic levels. Researchers analyzed the results and found there is far more plastic on the ocean floor than they expected.

“Our findings buttress a growing body of scientific evidence pointing to the waters and animals of the deep sea, Earth’s largest habitat, as the biggest repository of small plastic debris,” Anela Choy, assistant professor at UC-San Diego said after the new study was released. She said the plastic could be drifting into the Monterey Bay area from the Northern Pacific ocean.

Ocean currents can carry debris thousands of miles, Choy said. One example is the “floating landfill” between California and Hawaii, a floating mass of mostly plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean. But wherever the plastic is coming from, researchers say it’s mostly coming from consumer products, such as plastic straws and bags.

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