Another study has just come out—revealing that plastic pollution has been discovered in deep-sea sediments and surface waters in the Antarctic marine ecosystem. The similarities between this research and the study I wrote about earlier in the week on plastics in the Arctic are very troubling.
Plastic pollution has now been documented in both Polar Regions on Earth. In addition to being the most remote, least populated areas on the planet, the Arctic and Antarctic are critically sensitive regions, currently being affected by increasing water temperatures and decreasing sea ice due to climate change.
Like in the Arctic, microplastics found in the Southern Ocean aren’t originating in Antarctica—they drift on ocean currents, potentially for for thousands of miles, and meet this relative dead-end where they can accumulate and harm ocean wildlife. This study shows us, once again, that we must support continued ocean plastics research and monitoring in order to understand the full extent of the problem and come up with solutions commensurate in scope and scale.