Twice the size of Texas, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—along with other swirling masses of garbage in our oceans—has been making headlines of late. But while many people are familiar with images of garbage floating on the surface of the Pacific, few have seen the trash that lies on the ocean floor.
According to Treehugger, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute "combed through thousands of hours of video footage taken over the last 20 years from remotely controlled vehicles" placed deep in the Pacific. At dive sites from Vancouver Island to the Gulf of California, researches counted more than 1,500 instances of deep-sea debris.
About one-third of the trash discovered was plastic, reports Treehugger, while metal made up one-fifth of the total. Fishing equipment and rope were also common finds for researchers, as were bottles and paper.
Because of cold temperatures and lack of oxygen and bacteria, trash on the ocean floor takes much longer to decompose than it does on land. Of particular concern are plastic bags, which Treehugger calls “notoriously dangerous for marine life.”