six hadal trenches around the Pacific rim,
(a) Hirondellea gigas, (b) Hirondellea dubia,
and (c) Eurythenes gryllus.
Jamieson et al/Royal Society
in the guts of amphipods
at Challenger Deep,
some 10,890 meters
below the sea surface.
Led by Alan Jamieson,
a marine ecologist at Newcastle University, the team examined the
guts of small organisms called
lysianassid amphipods -
colloquially known as "sea fleas" - collected from six deep ocean
The study even includes
amphipods collected at
Challenger Deep in the Mariana
Trench, which is the lowest known point in the seabed at 10,890
meters below the ocean surface.
The researchers called hadal habitats "the ultimate sink" for any contaminants that drift down from higher levels of the ocean.
Because organisms that
live in depleted and isolated regions often evolve to capitalize on
carrion and food particles, they may be more prone to rapidly
ingesting plastics that make it to the seafloor.
The team is not yet
certain what causes this range between various locations, but higher
seem to be correlated with deeper habitats.
Microplastics eaten by small prey species can have implications for the entire marine food web.
While reports of dead
animals washing up on shore with their stomachs filled with plastic
have become sadly common, the new study reveals that beached
carcasses are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plastic
pollution in our oceans.