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“Repository” for plastic waste at 2500 meters depth

Two researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven found large amounts of plastic waste at a depth of 2500 meters on the seabed in the Framstrait, a strait between Greenland and Spitsbergen.

From 2002 to 2014, the Framstrait seabed was systematically photographed with a remote-controlled camera. The result of the study is dramatic: the deep sea threatens to become a kind of “repository for plastic waste”, fears deep sea biologist Dr. Melanie Bergmann. In 2014 6333 plastic parts were counted in the region on a square kilometer seabed! Although there is relatively little human influence here, the amount of plastic waste is comparable to that found close to large cities, for example in the lower waters of Lisbon.

Unfortunately just one of many: plastic bag – photograph taken at 2500 meters depth… (Image: Melanie Bergmann, Alfred-Wegener-Institut)

Platic bag on the seabed

Where exactly the garbage comes from, can not be said doubtlessly. What is certain is that plastic waste is also transported into polar regions with the Gulf Stream. In Framstrait several large streams of sea meet. It is the only link between the polar sea and the oceans. But also the sea ice could transport plastic parts, says Dr. Melanie Bergmann. If the ice melts in summer, plastic waste can be released.

At the beginning of February an obviously sick Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris) stranded on the island of Sotra close to Bergen. The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is actually a deep-sea whale, which very rarely stays in coastal areas. In his stomach, more than 30 plastic bags were found …

Source: Alfred-Wegener-Institut, NRK, Aftenposten

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last modification: 2017-02-26 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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