Marine biologist Melanie Bergmann of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven systematically analyzed more than 2,000 seafloor photographs taken near a deep-sea observatory in the Arctic’s eastern Fram Strait, between Greenland and the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.
“Almost 70 percent of the plastic litter that we recorded had come into some kind of contact with deep-sea organisms. For example, we found plastic bags entangled in sponges, sea anemones settling on pieces of plastic or rope, cardboard and beer bottles colonized by sea lilies,” wrote Bergmann in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.
The amount of human refuse seen at the Arctic deep-sea observatory was found to be even greater than in a deep-sea canyon near the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
“The Arctic Ocean and especially its deep-sea areas have long been considered to be the most remote and secluded regions of our planet,” Bergmann explains. “Unfortunately, our results refute this notion, at least for our observatory."