Our planet's oceans are huge and mysterious, and there are still stretches of the ocean floor that remain unexplored. But that doesn't mean they're pristine and untouched: a new study found even the deepest, most remote areas of the oceans contain man-made litter. As a species, we're just a bunch of slobs.
An international team of researchers led by the Institute of Marine Research's Christopher Pham performed the most extensive survey of the ocean floor yet, using remotely-operated camera vehicles and trawling nets to check for trash in 32 sites ranging from the Arctic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. In 588 separate surveys, the team found man-made trash every single time.
The highest density of trash was found in deep-sea caverns, and that trash traveled far: the team found garbage more than 1,200 miles from the shore, with junk showing up in the very remote Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone. They also detected garbage in the Cascais Canyon off of Lisbon, Portugal, a region nearly three miles deep.
The garbage observed included fishing nets, beer cans, food packaging, and even a toilet, though plastic was by far the most prevalent material. That poses a particular hazard, since deep sea creatures often die from mistakenly eating plastic.
Images: Christopher Pham, et. al.