A Trashy New Study: What's Really 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

In the Pacific Ocean, trash rules the day—both at the sunny surface and in the darkened depths.

Editorial Intern. She is the Chief of Broadcast and Op-Ed Section Editor for Crossfire Publications.

Remember how shocked and disgusted you were when, way back in 2009, Oprah let you in on a a rather disgusting secret—that there was a giant patch of trash, twice the size of Texas, floating in the Pacific Ocean? Well a new study makes that patch seem like a load of garbage.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Museum Research Institute just discovered that the mysterious and majestic seascape of the Pacific Ocean floor is dabbled with flat tires, plastic 12-pack of beer can rings, and the kind of plastic shopping bags that have been banned in elitist, one percenter neighborhoods everywhere.

The study found that about one third of the total trash in the ocean found consisted of plastic debris. More than half of those were the forbidden plastic bags. Aluminum, steel, and tin cans claim the other two-thirds of that deep-sea bin, along with glass bottles, ropes, and fishing equipment.

Finding all this garbage wasn’t easy—researchers combed through over 18,000 hours of underwater video collected by the research institute’s remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

Because there is no cost-effective way to get rid of the trash—you’d be very hard pressed to get even the die-hardiest of trash collectors to comb the ocean floor for discarded bottles of Diet Coke—preventing further accumulation is a major goal of the Aquarium.

So do your ocean a favor and invest in reusable grocery bags—but only if you don’t mind getting the occasional foodborne illness.

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