A new study found that plastic bags have reached the deepest part of the ocean as seen in the collection of photos and videos released recently.
Scientists discovered that plastic bags — such as the ones from grocery stores — are lodged some 36,000 feet inside the Mariana Trench, making it the deepest known trash in the planet.
The Deep-Sea Debris Database contains photos and videos taken from at least 5,010 dives in the past 30 years. About 89 percent of the plastics are comprised of single-use trash such as disposable bottles and utensils. Other debris includes rubber, metal, wood, and cloth.
In 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched the Okeanos Explorer vessel, which discovered new species of deep-sea creatures including that of corals, jellyfish, and octopus. The study, which was published April 6 in Marine Policy, showed that 17 percent of the plastics were entangled in some marine life.
"Plastic pollution is emerging as one of the most serious threats to ocean ecosystems , and world leaders, scientists, and communities recognize the need for urgent management measures for the sustainability of marine ecosystem services in the future," the authors wrote.
'Extraordinary' Pollution Levels
The Mariana Trench is by far the deepest point on the planet discovered. It is also home to bizarre, alien-like forms of marine life that experts never knew existed.
This is why it is surprising for scientists to know that approximately 3,500 pieces of plastic and other trash are lodged in one of the world's most remote and fragile locations.
A study published in the journal Nature, Ecology & Evolution reported that the crustaceans found in Mariana Trench have 50 times more pollutants than those found in the most polluted rivers in China.
"We still think of the deep ocean as being this remote and pristine realm, safe from human impact, but our research shows that, sadly, this could not be further from the truth," said lead author Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University in the UK. "The fact that we found such extraordinary levels of these pollutants really brings home the long-term, devastating impact that mankind is having on the planet."
How Did It Get Into The Mariana Trench?
An analysis of the plastic particles reportedly contained persistent organic pollutants or POPs that are produced anywhere between the 1930s to the 1970s.
These POPs are difficult to decompose, and some 1.3 million tons of these chemicals were dumped into the ocean due to industrial leaks or accidents.
Experts determined that POPs sink to the bottom of the ocean between three and six months. It is also likely that these particles are trapped in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch floating between Hawaii and California.