Tiny sea creatures living in some of the deepest recesses of the planet’s oceans are contaminated with microplastics, according to a study by the Royal Society Open Science.
Researchers dissected lysianassoidea amphipods, known commonly as sea fleas, collected from six deep sea trenches stretching from Japan to Chile and found microplastic contaminants in them all.
“It is highly likely there are no marine ecosystems left that are not impacted by plastic pollution,” researchers said.
It is the deepest recorded study of microplastic ingestion. The samples were taken from depths of 23,000 to 36,000 feet.
Different types of amphipods are food for fish, crustaceans and birds. They have adapted in a way that makes them prone to feed on microplastics, researchers said.
There is an estimated 250,000 tons of plastic trash floating on the surface of the world’s waterways, researchers said. Over time, plastic waste breaks down and has been found in deep-sea sediment. The deepest recorded plastic litter was a bag found in the Mariana Trench at nearly 36,000 feet.
“Plastics reaching the massive expanse of the deep sea are ultimately contaminating an ecosystem we know far less about than the area from where it originates,” researchers wrote.