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plastic particles found deep in the ocean

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The ocean’s plastic problem goes deeper than you might have realized.

Scientists using underwater robots in the waters off California’s central coast found that plastic debris has infiltrated the deep ocean, with evidence of microscopic plastic particles extending from the surface all the way to the seafloor.

“It’s a longstanding question: How much plastic is in the ocean?” said Anela Choy, an assistant professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and lead author of the new study. “That question has mostly been answered from looking at the best available data at the surface of the ocean, but we know the ocean is a very large three-dimensional space, so we have to account for the plastic below the surface.”

It's estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year. Choy said the study, which was conducted at two locations within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, could account for what’s known as the “missing plastic in the ocean.” The term refers to the significant discrepancy that researchers have found between the total amount of plastic that has been produced and the amount of plastic that has been seen in the environment.


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