Ocean rubbish--no longer out of sight, out of mind

ALERT member Craig Morley has this to say about the vast amounts of rubbish we are dumping into the sea:

Yuck.. time to stop treating the oceans like a rubbish bin

Yuck.. time to stop treating the oceans like a rubbish bin

Many of us know of the great Pacific garbage patch, or gyre, that floats between Hawai’i and the continental USA.  

This is one of five great garbage-gyres globally.  With the recent search for Flight MH 370, our attention has once again focused on the amount of floating rubbish in our oceans.

Now, a team of scientists has found that not all of this litter floats. Plastics, fishing nets, glass and metals were commonly seen in a survey of the floors of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans and in the Mediterranean Sea.  Hence, the gyres are revealing just a fraction of all the oceanic garbage.  

Much of the human litter was found in submarine canyons, in the deepest ocean depths, some 4.5 kilometers down.  The litter was strewn from the continental shelf to the mid-Atlantic ridge, around 2,000 kilometers from land.

The most common pollutant was plastic followed by fishing lines and nets.  Plastic is notorious for killing marine wildlife, particularly marine mammals, turtles, and birds as they ingest it and then die in a phenomenon known as ghost fishing. 

Clearly, the enormous quantities of rubbish we dump into the sea are not simply disappearing.  It’s not really out of sight or out of mind at all.