Mysteriously, study finds less ocean plastic than expected

By on July 23, 2014

Scientists can’t seem to figure out where all the ocean’s plastic debris has gone. The LA Times wrote about a new study showing that far less plastic is floating on the oceans’ surface than models have predicted.

As reported by the study, the 10,000 to 35,000 tons of plastic debris littering the oceans is less than expected. The findings reveal that the amount of plastic debris in the oceans has stayed fairly constant since the 1980s, though worldwide plastic production has increased by a factor of four.

Scientists have presented various hypotheses to explain where all that plastic might have gone. Deep sea fish that feed on plankton near the surface at night may consume some of the plastic, carrying it back into the depths. Alternatively, bacterial colonies growing on the debris could cause it to sink to the bottom.

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