Oct 24, 2020 08:00 AM EDT
A considerable amount of microplastics have been found by scientists to be present in remotely located polar seas, including the seabed of Antarctica.
Comparable Abundance With The Mediterranean And Atlantic
According to scientists, microplastics are just as abundant in the Antarctic region compared to their amounts in the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic.
A research team from the LJMU or Liverpool John Moores University, British Antarctic Survey, and Queen’s University in Belfast conducted a study and collected samples in remote areas of the Sandwich Islands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula.
They published their results in Environmental Science & Technology.
The study found a minimum of one microplastic particle for each gram of seafloor sediment in the Antarctic. This is the same level of pollution found in other oceans that are a lot more accessible and nearer to human habitation and activity.
The researchers found fibers, films, and fragments of the polymers most commonly used and disposed of by man, including polystyrene, polypropylene, and polyester. All of these are usually found in plastic packaging.
READ:Upcycling Polyethylene Plastic Into Useful Molecules is Now Efficient and Cheap to Reduce Plastic Waste
The Global Reach of Microplastic Pollution
According to LJMU environmental science senior lecturer Dr. Kostas Kiriakoulakis, it is the first published global report of microplastic pollution in the region. They consider it to be essential if we are to understand the immense worldwide scale of the problem of microplastics.
Th scientists collected samples reaching a depth of 3.6 kilometers. Dr. Katrin Linse gathered them from the British Antarctic Survey. She is part of another larger research project which entailed traveling to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. She managed the samples during the trip there.
Linse is a co-author of the study and is a senior biodiversity biologist. She wanted to determine how much microplastics are present in Antarctica, which exposes the various invertebrates inhabiting the seafloor, such as snails, clams, worms, brittles stars, and shrimps.
Significance of the Study
Linse says that they believe their study is a pioneer in analyzing the amount of microplastic pollution in the Southern Ocean’s deep-sea sediments. The research will be the baseline for other future lessons from the bottom up to the ocean’s surface.
According to Queen’s University Ph.D. researcher Mánus Cunningham, their study shows that regardless of the area’s remote location, an ecosystem will still be influenced by human activity. Humanity has been dumping plastics into the oceans for approximately 70 years.
To find these plastics in Antarctica may not be surprising, he says, but what is surprising is that the level of pollution is comparable to other oceans nearer to human populations.
READ ALSO: Microplastic Alert: Babies Maybe Drinking Millions of Particles a Day From Formula Bottles, Study Says
Why There is so Much Plastic
The number of plastics may be deemed too high for this remote location. Theories have been put forward, including the effects of wind or water currents and local human activity and the transportation of plastics by marine organisms.
According to Sonja Ehlers from the Federal Institute of Hydrology, it is interesting to determine where these microplastics come from and assess the role of research stations and ship traffic in spreading them to Antarctica’s polar seas.
READ NEXT: Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Disposable Masks Have Become Major Plastic Waste
Check out for more news and information on Microplastics on Nature World News.
© 2018 NatureWorldNews.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.