Amount of plastic collected along the route of the 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race. Graphic: The Guardian

By Sandra Laville
12 February 2018

(The Guardian) – Microplastics have been found in some of the most remote and uncharted regions of the oceans raising more concerns over the global scale of plastic pollution.

Samples taken from the middle of the South Indian Ocean – at latitude 45.5 degrees south – show microplastic particles detected at relatively high volumes. Sören Gutekunst, from the Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, who analysed the samples, said the data showed 42 particles per cubic metre, which was surprising given the remoteness of the area.

“Data on microplastics has not been taken from this extremely remote area before and what we found was relatively high levels,” he said. “There are places in the ocean which are not being observed and that is why it is so special for us to be doing this. It is amazing that we have the opportunity and this could lead to much further knowledge about what is happening with microplastics in the ocean.”

The samples were gathered by a research vessel taking part in the Volvo round-the-world ocean race as it skirted around the Antarctic exclusion zone. The race takes them through ocean areas so remote they have never been sampled before, allowing Gutekunst and his team to collect new data.

Gutekunst said research on microplastics in the ocean was in its relative infancy. Currently scientists can only account for 1% of the plastic they think is in the ocean. [more]

Microplastics pollute most remote and uncharted areas of the ocean

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