Investigating the deep-sea waters of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean


Investigating the deep-sea waters of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean

The latest issue of Science for Environment Policy news and information service has published an article, investigating the high levels of micro plastic (MP) pollution within the Antarctic and Southern Ocean deep-seas. 

Based on a recent research paper – High abundance of microplastic pollution in deep-sea sediments: evidence from Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, the publication reveals that despite of being one of the furthest areas in the world, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean region holds an enormous amount of plastic pollution, with an average of 1794 items floating the waters in these areas. 

Being a great threat to the marine biodiversity and ecosystem functionalities, the particles are proven to be ingested by sea species. Along these lines, being aware of the serious threat that micro plastics are posing to the marine biodiversity, CLAIM is actively working towards the creation of sufficient filtering technologies. Such innovation is the pyrolizer, which has been developed to clean, re-use and monitor larger plastic pieces. 

Nonetheless, what becomes apparent from the SEP’s study is that the local population has a limited understanding of the effects that marine litter is posing to the habitats of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean, and consequently to the environment and human well-being. In order to establish the extent to which micro plastics are present in these regions, the study has collected data from around thirty sites within the areas of interest. 

The results of the research show that a high level of MPs has been found, implying that the Antarctic and Southern Ocean deep-sea accumulates more MP pollution than previously expected. The researchers, therefore, suggest that MPs are likely entering the food chain and traveling across trophic levels. The source of the MP pollution in the Southern Ocean is unknown, but the levels are higher than in shallow water near to human settlements in riverine catchments.

Consequently, the findings of this study broaden the knowledge about the long-term pollution of Antarctic areas, which is important on a global scale for biodiversity protection and environmental policy planning. 

Read the Science for Environment Policy newsletter here.

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