Well it appears that yet again we have sunk to all new depths and that my friends is not entirely sarcastic. It appears that in a recent survey of the ocean floor bottles, plastic bags, fishing gear, and various crap have been found as deep 4.5 kilometers below the surface, and in areas far as 2,000 kilometers from land.
So after reaching new and uncharted depths in the ocean it appears that our garbage has arrived there before us. An article from IFLScience reproduced some of the visuals I have here and also talked about the issues surrounding the effects to marine life, coral and the fragile ecosystem that can be so negatively impacted by the plastics and other pieces of detritus that were captured on film.
- Pictured here: A = Plastic bag entrapped by a small drop stone harboring sponges (Cladorhiza gelida, Caulophacus arcticus), shrimps (Bythocaris sp.) and a crinoid (Bathycrinus carpenterii) in the Arctic at 2500 m.
- B = Litter recovered within the net of a trawl in Blanes open slope at 1500 m on board the R/V García del Cid.
- C = Heineken can in the upper Whittard canyon at 950 m with the ROV Genesis.
- D = Plastic bag in Blanes Canyon at 896 m with the ROV Liropus.
- E = Uncle Ben’s Express Rice packet at 967 m in Darwin Mound with the ROV Lynx.
- F = Cargo net entangled in a cold-water coral colony at 950 m in Darwin Mound with the ROV Lynx
[This information taken from the Marine Litter Distribution and Density in European Seas, from the Shelves to Deep Basins]
A press release has Kerry Howell from Plymouth University and coauthor of a survey of the European Sea Floor stating:
Human litter is present in all marine habitats, from beaches to the most remote and deepest parts of the oceans. Most of the deep-sea remains unexplored by humans, and these are our first visits to many of these sites, but we were shocked to find that our rubbish has got there before us.
In a previous post, This Will Break Your Heart, I highlighted the terrible price wildlife dependent upon the sea for its diet pay due to the unthinking negligence humanity shows the world in which we live.
When you consider just that singular island [Midway Island] and the heartbreaking damage we saw there and then factor in the vastness of the ocean and the multitude of those who rely upon it for sustenance you can hear the drums of extinction thrumming a steady beat that is getting closer with every assault upon the environment.
Hear in Australia we are fighting to keep deliberate harm from dredging and dumping on the Great Barrier Reef along with the incalculable risk that is inherent every time one of the tankers crosses the shipping lanes close to the reef [thank you Campbell Newman for that one].
What concerns me now, after reading this paper, is the impact we are unwittingly having on the ocean and it’s ecosystem. Can it sustain much more damage before the collapse of its fragile balance is unstoppable, have we passed that mark unknowingly, considering the contaminants that have now permanently entered the food chain?
Is this beautiful scene already dying and if not what can we do or what are we prepared to do to ensure the that the Reef does not become Queensland’s Landfill? We can’t give in to political bullying or company swagger, we can’t get tired and give up and we can’t give an inch because that inch could save or damn this unique gift we have been given.