A scientist has discovered plastic during the first-ever journey to the third-deepest ocean trench on Earth.
Dr Deo Florence Onda travelled to The Emden Deep, part of the Philippine Trench, which as of just a couple of months ago no human being had ever visited. This unexplored trench is part of one of the oldest seabeds on Earth.
Dr Onda, 33, from the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute, descended into the trench back in March, alongside Victor Vescovo, an American explorer from undersea technology company Caladan Oceanic.
Dr Onda told Channel News Asia (CNA):
If you look at the Philippine Trench, the first description was in the 1950s and then the more detailed one was in the 1970s. The technology then was not that good yet, or accurate. It was an opportunity for us to see what’s happening down there, which has never been seen before.
The pair explored the trench over the course of a 12-hour period, and were greatly surprised by what they discovered.
Dr Onda revealed:
There was one funny scene when we were exploring the area. There was one white material floating around. I was saying, ‘Victor, that’s a jellyfish.’ We went there and approached, and it was just plastic.
The only unusual thing there was the garbage. There was a lot of garbage in the trench. There were a lot of plastics, a pair of pants, a shirt, a teddy bear, packaging and a lot of plastic bags. Even me, I did not expect that, and I do research on plastics.
Seeing it for the first time was a privilege as a human being, representing 106 million Filipinos and billions of people of the world. But being a witness to the extent of pollution, and being a witness to the gravity of the plastics problem from the surface to the bottom of the ocean, is another thing.
It becomes my responsibility to tell people that their garbage doesn’t stay where they put it. It goes somewhere else and it will sink.
According to Surfers Against Sewage, an approximate eight million pieces of plastic pollution ends up the oceans every single day, with plastics consistently making up 80% of all marine debris studied.
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