In some alarming environmental news, recent reports have revealed that the arctic ocean is polluted with 300 billion pieces of plastic. This waste was dumped into other oceans by humans.
According to The Washington Post, currents have deposited waste in seas both north of Scandinavia as well as those east of Greenland. A research project began in 2013, and went on for seven months as researchers aboard the vessel Tara took documentation of tiny pieces of plastic scattered along the final limb of the Gulf stream, which then delivers the Atlantic ocean’s waters to the north. The arctic ocean has now become known as the “dead end for floating plastics” after they have migrated through the world’s other oceans. In addition to the 300 billion pieces of plastic suspended in the waters, it is believed that there are even more attached to the sea floor.
The Independent gives detail to the growing concern of scientists, who say that their recent discovery is merely the beginning of plastic migrating to Arctic ocean waters. Given that plastic has only been used industrially for the past 60 years, says study co-author Carlos Duarte, the usage and production has nowhere near met its height at this point in time and therefore it can be predicted that even more pieces of the material will end up in the formerly pristine sea. Duarte is the director of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology’s Red Sea Research Center, in Saudi Arabia.
The arctic ocean study, the results of which were first published on Wednesday in Science Advances, was led by the University of Cádiz’s Andrés Cózar, who had the help of 11 other researchers who came from all around the world. These scientists hail from eight nations; the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United States, and Denmark.
In regards to exactly how researchers know for sure the waste was brought into the arctic ocean by currents rather than directly by humans, there are several pieces of evidence that let them to this conclusion. The main one revolves around the population of the arctic, which is quite small, and therefore the likelihood of enough people dumping waste into the seas to create such a high volume of plastic is very slim. In addition, the condition of the plastic when it was discovered clearly showed that it had been traveling the oceans for decades, as it was very weathered and worn down.
By Lorelai Zelmerlow
Photo Courtesy Andres Cozar