unbelievable is all I can say!
[B]Researchers study 18,000 hours of deep sea footage, find ocean seafloor is covered in trash[/B]
Michael Graham Richard
Science / Ocean Conservation
June 25, 2013
Ocean seafloor trash
Screen capture MBRI
Not surprising, but sad nonetheless
We’ve all seen images of trash on beaches, or floating on the surface of the ocean. But a surprising amount ends up on the deep seafloor, at depths so great that it’s been very hard for us to really know what the situation is. Because it’s no very practical to fund a deep sea mission just to look for trash, researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute instead decided to comb through thousands of hours of video recorded by remotely controlled vehicles over the past 20+ years, specifically looking for debris.
For this study, research technicians searched the VARS database to find every video clip that showed debris on the seafloor. They then compiled data on all the different types of debris they saw, as well as when and where this debris was observed.
In total, the researchers counted over 1,500 observations of deep-sea debris, at dive sites from Vancouver Island to the Gulf of California, and as far west as the Hawaiian Islands. In the recent paper, the researchers focused on seafloor debris in and around Monterey Bay—an area in which MBARI conducts over 200 research dives a year. In this region alone, the researchers noted over 1,150 pieces of debris on the seafloor.
About 1/3 of the trash were made of plastic, more than half of those being plastic bags, which are notoriously dangerous for marine life. Next were metal objects, at about 1/5 of the total. Other common debris included rope, fishing equipment, glass bottles, paper, and cloth items.
Because of deep sea conditions (very cold water, little oxygen, few bacteria), all of this trash will likely stick around much longer than it would do on the ground.
Hard to say what a study like that might cost. Sometimes the government grants ludicrous amounts of money to “white elephants” that could better be spent elsewhere. Sometimes a concerned group within the scientific community bands together to get research like that done on a shoestring budget.
What’s the cost of filling up the seabed with debris that doesn’t have to be there? What’s the cost to future generations?
Also hard to say.
[QUOTE=BilgeRat42;113445]What’s the cost of filling up the seabed with debris that doesn’t have to be there? [/QUOTE]
“FILLING” up the seabed? Utterly laughable in its complete stoopidity. You can’t fill millions upon millions of square miles of seabed and I would venture to say that except for certainly heavily travelled routes the entire seabed is barren of human generated waste. I’ve been involved in several sidescan and multibeam sonar surveys of the seafloor for cable route surveys and we would go weeks without the slightest indication of one tiny bit of manmade debris.
Well, mathematically speaking, you can fill up millions of square miles easily if you use stuff that takes millions of years to biodegrade.
I would agree that it’s probably not a problem of epidemic proportions at the moment, but it’s hard to say what the proportions of a problem really are without a little research.
I simply don’t think the costs involved in the study are worth getting in too much of a twist about. That’s my opinion.
Now, if you’ll forgive me, it was crew change yesterday. I’m at home getting drunk and taking an extra two seconds to dispose of my beer bottles properly instead of just chucking them into the sea.
End of line.
fair enough but spending ANY taxpayer money to know there’s junk on the bottom of the ocean is about as senseless as any other possible spending. Of course there is lots of junk down there in the deep ocean plus more than a few ships and a whole lot of very old ammo still I don’t believe a single human is effected by any of it unless it contains a lot of oil and it happens to be close to a coastline such as that tanker sunk during WWII off California. That is the only real danger lurking in the abyss and even that isn’t that big of a threat to man.
besides a great deal of manmade debris on the seafloor provides nice living places for many creatures.
so ok, glad one of us gets to have a few beers right now…I am still two weeks away from my next cold one. Enjoy!
[QUOTE=c.captain;113454]besides a great deal of manmade debris on the seafloor provides nice living places for many creatures.[/QUOTE]
Perhaps some ships, containers and such, but most of the crap we throw into the sea just ends up either killing animals or, after it has broken down enough, into the food chain. In some years, you might end up eating fish with tiny bits of plastic inside the flesh. Not that it will kill you, but it’s a nasty thought…
We just found out that we can’t dump our incinerator waste overboard…yesterday…
Yup, bag and tag and send ashore. No metals in there either, the disposal charges are exponentially more. Gotta log all incinerator activity too; daily start and stop and how much ash you created.
Regarding the article, firstly, nowhere does it say this (measly) study was taxpayer funded. Secondly, in about three clicks it can be discovered that the MBARI is a non-profit and receives 80% of its funding from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation (the Packard in Hewlett-Packard), which in turn is funded from Dave’s estate. The remaining 20% comes from various other places, which yes, includes the National Science Foundation ::shriek!:: however that specific funding seems to be project-based and I seriously doubt they’d go through all the NSF grant application legwork for something like this. I think there is some very misdirected anger in the title of this thread.
[QUOTE=c.captain;113429]unbelievable is all I can say!
I’m a scientist at MBARI that co-authored this research. I won’t comment/defend our work here because if you read the press release and watch the video I think it speaks for itself http://www.mbari.org/news/news_releases/2013/deep-debris/deep-debris-release.html
[SIZE=2]However, I will comment on the funding of the research because it is clear that this community is unaware of MBARI’s funding situation. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation provides the large majority of MBARI’s funding and very little funding comes from publicly funded grants. MBARI’s Remotely Operate Vehicles operate about 200 dives per year and trained [/SIZE]Video Lab staff annotate all ROV video tapes, identifying animals, features, behaviors, and habitats according to the current, collective body of scientific knowledge. The trash found in this video database was then analyzed and results were published in the research linked to above. This analysis was conducted as a side project of the Video Lab staff and there were no scientific mission that specifically searched for trash in the deep sea.