The amount of deep ocean trash is astonishing.
As some of you have probably noticed, there are certain human behaviors that really chap my backside.
One of the all-time worst of my pet peeves is the trashing of the environment. I was shocked and taken aback to discover the extent of deep ocean trash.
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An article in the science journal PLOS ONE cautions us to the fact that even in the deepest ocean basins, humans have once again left their mark on the planet.
Experts from the University of Barcelona's Marine Geosciences Department conducted a survey of the sea floor, and what they found is appalling.
Plastic and fishing gear seem to be the most common materials found along with glass, metal, wood, paper pottery and even clothing being found at all depths from 35 meters to 4,500 meters.
All areas of the ocean floor are contaminated, with some sites appearing to be actual garbage dumps!
Everything from solid objects to microplastics created by plastic degradation was found in the most remote areas like the Arctic and Southern Ocean. Millions of tons of trash are shamelessly dumped every year.
A quote by Kerry Howell, professor at Plymouth University's Marine Institute, was a true eye opener for me. "This survey has shown that human litter is present in all marine habitats, from beaches to the most remote and deepest parts of the oceans," she said. "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."
There are even deposits of burned coal residue called "clinker" found along commercial shipping routes. Dumped there starting in late 18th Century by steam ships, these residues still remain.
I don't know about you, but that just gnaws at me clear to the bone. If the world as whole were to spend just a fraction of their weapons budget on cleaning up and protecting the environment instead of devising new and better ways to destroy each other, just think how much good might be accomplished.
All too often humans dispose of their waste products with an apparent "out of sight, out of mind" attitude, never thinking nor even caring about the consequences of the where and the how.
All that garbage littering the sea floor and every section of the water column will have an effect on the marine environment; just how may not be clear at present and it may manifest itself in a most unpleasant manner at a future time.
Regardless of its awesome power and vastness, the oceans are a finite and valuable resource and should be cared for as such. If humans are allowed to soil the planet beyond its ability to heal itself, where will we be? Where will we go?
Humans must learn to respect their home and not treat it like a dumping ground. After all, even a smart dog knows not to do his "business" in his own backyard.
For more info and a good read, check out the book Plastic Ocean by Captain Charles Moore, full of some really compelling information.
Have you ever seen large amounts of waste out at sea? Did it tick you off?