Plastic menace as junk is found SEVEN MILES down in the ocean
Around eight million tonnes of plastic finds its way into our oceans every year Shrimps 36,000ft down in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean - the deepest place on the planet - have been found with plastic in their guts. Plastic fibres and fragments were found in every shrimp studied at a point nearly seven miles deep - 7,000ft deeper than Mount Everest is tall. Plastic was also found in the gut of shrimps in five other deep ocean trenches around the Pacific Rim, from Japan to Chile. Researchers from Newcastle and Aberdeen universities and the Scottish Marine Institute wrote: "Microparticles of manmade synthetic or semisynthetic fibres and fragments were found in the hindgut of amphipods at all nine sites. "Fibres were found in every trench and appeared in 84 per cent of amphipods. "This study demonstrates that man-made fibres including microplastics are ingested at the deepest location of the Earth's oceans. This study reports the deepest record of microplastic ingestion, indicating it is highly likely there are no marine ecosystems left not impacted by plastic pollution."
About eight million tonnes of plastic enter the world's oceans every year, much of it carried out to sea by rivers.
It breaks up under the impact of wind, waves and sunshine, eventually becoming tiny microplastic or smaller nanoplastic which can enter the food chain by being absorbed by plankton.
One expert predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight than fish in the sea.
The latest study in Royal Society Open Science said microplastic ingestion has been observed in creatures from crustaceans to whales and is known to "negatively affect" about 700 marine species.
Last year the Daily Express showed how ocean currents are carrying plastic waste to the HighArctic Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.
Last year evidence that plastic has entered the human food chain was revealed by a study of human excrement.
Plastic was found in every sample taken from volunteers from Europe, Japan and Russia.
The British study of the Pacific shrimps focussed on trenches ranging in depth from 23,000ft to 36,000ft.
The scientists found the shrimps had eaten blue, black, red, pink and purple fibres and fragments.
Microplastics are smaller than 5mm but many are thinner than a human hair.
The report said the plastic had been eaten "by the most important and dominant scavenging fauna in the deep sea".
The samples were gathered between 2008 and 2017, which indicates that microplastics have been eaten by the creatures for at least a decade. One source of microplastics is clothing, with Friends of the Earth claiming one load of washing could shed 17 million tiny plastic fibres.
Julian Kirby from the charity said: "Microplastic pollution has been found in our highest mountains, food and tap water - and now our deepest seas."
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has banned microbeads in cosmetics. He is also considering a ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.