Can we harm deep-sea creatures?

Eurythenes plasticus: Newly discovered deep-sea creature has plastic in its stomach

Vienna - Microplastics can now be found practically everywhere. Because of the small size of the plastic particles, they are not necessarily immediately obvious, but this fact makes them all the more dangerous for even the smallest land and marine animals. A study on amphibians a year ago showed that even the deepest regions of the oceans are not spared from the trickling downward civilization waste. Scientists recently discovered a previously unknown species of deep-sea amphipod - and this new species was also contaminated with microplastics.

Plastic waste as namesake

To underline the urgency of the problem with plastic pollution in the oceans, researchers from Newscastle University in England named the species Eurythenes plasticus, found at a depth of around 6,500 meters in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific near the Philippines.

"With this name we want to send a strong signal against marine pollution and make it clear that we urgently need to do something about the massive plastic flood," said Alan Jamieson, head of the research mission. With the support of the environmental protection organization WWF, the scientists involved presented their discovery in the specialist journal "Zootaxa".

On the occasion of this discovery, the WWF called for an international agreement against the flood of plastic: "How many warnings do we actually need before the world acts? The newly discovered species lives in one of the most remote places on our planet and is still contaminated today. Plastic is in the Air that we breathe, in the water that we drink and even in animals that live far away from human civilization, "warned Axel Hein, marine expert at WWF Austria.

One truck load of plastic every minute

In the five centimeter long flea shrimp, 650 micrometer small pieces of polyethylene terephthalate or PET for short were found, a plastic that is also contained in many everyday objects such as disposable drinking bottles, foils and textiles. "On average, one truckload of plastic waste ends up in the oceans every minute. This is why there is an urgent need for a UN agreement that prescribes waste reduction and improved waste management worldwide. Europe and Austria are also required to reduce their ecological footprint at all levels. Politicians have to pass the necessary laws instead of just outsourcing responsibility to the individual, "said Hein.

In order to curb the flood of plastic, the WWF has started a worldwide petition, in which politicians are called upon to campaign for an international agreement against the entry of plastic into the oceans, for example with a deposit system. "Austrian politicians must also advocate binding regulations at EU and UN level," demanded the nature conservation organization. (red, APA, March 6, 2020)