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The Ocean Floor Is Littered with Humanity's Garbage

Researchers say they were "shocked" to find so much plastic, glass, and fishing equipment all over the seafloor.
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Christopher Pham et al.

Down at the bottom of the ocean, it's not just thermal vents and whale bones. There's a vast accumulation of bottles, plastic bags, and other human-generated rubbish – perhaps the world's largest hidden waste dump, drifting on the currents for a virtual eternity.

Getting a full picture of this Atlantis of waste has been difficult, due to the high cost and physical challenges of reaching the seafloor. But over the past 10 years a number of scientific institutions have worked together to investigate deep-marine garbage, and this week they finally published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE. After performing nearly 600 video and trawl surveys in European waters, they've come to the depressing conclusion that the trash is everywhere, from the deepest to shallowest points, to near-coast shelves and regions as remote as the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone. Here's roughly where that is on Google Maps: