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Drowning in plastic

12th June 2019

Last month, at the deepest point of the Pacific Ocean, an explorer found litter.

Seven miles below the surface.

The explorer, Victor Vescovo, descended in a vessel to the deepest point reached by any human being, then he started to scan the ocean floor with LED lights and low-light cameras.
There he found a piece of, what looks like, plastic scrap.

This isn’t the first evidence of the damage being done to our oceans by humans.

First signs of ocean plastic litter were seen in the 1960s when continuous plankton recorders (CPR), devices trailed from ships, snared a plastic bag off the coast of Ireland. All CPR activity is logged, which reveals that plastic was an issue decades ago and the logs shows, also, that there’s been a steady increase in ocean plastic since 1990.

Over in the Indian Ocean, the Cocos Islands, once known for being an unspoilt paradise, has beaches littered with garbage, mostly buried under the sand. According to a report published recently the items comprise mainly plastic – straws, toothbrushes, shoes. It’s not just unsightly, marine life suffers ill effects from the litter as well. Birds are found with plastic fragments in their stomachs and microplastics are being identified in fish and, even, Antarctic ice.

Scientists are concerned that we only think of rubbish as that which is visible. A team studying beaches on 7 of the 27 islands in the Australian atolls found that the amount of litter uncovered by digging four inches into the sand was substantial, accounting for more than 90% of garbage on the island. According to a 2014 study, our oceans contain an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic.

And the only solution lies with each of us to reduce the amount of plastic we use in our daily lives and to dispose of what we do use responsibly.