Where is All the Plastic?

Researchers are finding less of it on the ocean’s surface than expected.

plastic in the ocean
Researchers expected to find more plastic on the surface and are wondering if it has sunk to the depths of the ocean.Courtesy ecowatch.org

Researches completing a first-ever map of ocean trash say that, yes, there are millions of pieces of plastic floating in five different areas, but there’s not as much plastic as there should be given how much of it has been created since the 1980s.

Marine ecologist Andres Cozar Cabañas led the team, whose work was published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and reported by National Geographic. They determined that a lot of plastic bits are lurking somewhere, but not on the surface where they expected it to be.

That means it could be broken into finer pieces or have sunk to deeper parts of the ocean, where its effects would be impossible to predict because we know so little about deep ocean ecosystems.

Read more about what the new study means at the National Geographic website.