The perceptions that we humans have about our own rubbish removal problems are not always accurate. Let’s take plastic pollution in our oceans as an example. To do so, let’s perform an experiment about human perception using you, our reader, as the guinea pig. Are you game? If so, try the following:
1. Close your eyes and imagine in your mind a picture of the ocean.
2. Now, add to this mental image of plastic waste removal and other rubbish removal.
3. Describe to a family member or friend as vividly as you can what you see in your mental image. Be sure to be very detailed in your description. Alternately, if that makes you feel silly, you can write out a description and email it to yourself for later reference.
Before you continue reading, please complete the experiment.
Okay, now that you’ve described what you saw in your own mind, let us give three guesses as to what you saw:
1. You saw a sandy beach with rubbish removal strewn along the high tide lines.
2. From a vantage point of a boat, beach, or hill, you saw plastic and other rubbish removal floating on the surface of the sea.
3. You saw an image of a sea turtle or marine mammal eating a plastic bag or some other large piece of rubbish removal.
Are we right? Did we guess correctly? We’re betting we did! To add to this experiment, try asking your friends and family to do the same thing. What mental images do they see? How do they compare to your own? Put this out on your social media channels to take it to a wider audience.
As humans contemplating our rubbish removal problems, we tend to imagine what we are most familiar with and forget about what is hidden from our sight. For most of us, when we are asked to imagine a picture of the ocean with rubbish, we immediately think of a beach with tide lines filled with waste removal or rubbish floating on top of the water. This is because most of us have actually seen this in person, and for those of us who have not, we’ve at least seen this in movies or pictures. Those of us who may be more eco-conscious may have seen the litter campaigns by environmental groups showing marine animals eating plastic.
With your mental image of an ocean with rubbish removal in mind, what if we were to tell you that there’s more rubbish removal in the deep sea than on our shores? What if we were to tell you that there’s more rubbish removal in the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot on the ocean floor, with a maximum depth of 10,994 metres (36,070 feet, about 6.83 miles), than on our beaches and in shallow water where we swim, fish, boat, surf, and otherwise recreate?
Do you believe us?
Do you find this shocking?
Well, it’s 100 percent accurate and true! And… there’s very good scientific evidence to back it up. So, memorize these astounding facts and share them with your friends. The more that people know about the hidden dangers of rubbish removal in our oceans, the more motivated people will be to do something about it.
Professor Alan Jamieson, a scientist at the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, led a group of researchers on a expedition of the Mariana Trench, the deepest area of the deep sea. However, these scientists did not actually go into the deep sea themselves. Instead, they used a robotic submarine with landing capabilities to collect amphipods from the deep sea trench. Amphipods are tiny shrimp like creatures that eat detritus off the ocean floor.
The robotic submarine would sit on the deep ocean floor for eight to twelve hours at a time before the scientists would bring the submarine to the surface and retrieve their samples of amphipods. Using three funnel shaped traps attached to the submarine, baited with mackerel to create an “odour plume,” they attracted the deep sea amphipods to the traps. Mesh surrounded this mackerel to prevent the amphipods from actually eating the bait so as not to throw off the results for contaminant concentration.
The scientists tested the tissues of the amphipods for levels of two types of persistent organic pollutants (POPs): polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The results for these contaminants in the deep sea amphipods were off the charts high! To make the relevance of the results very clear, the level of contaminants found in these deep sea amphipods were FIFTY TIMES HIGHER than what had been found previously in detritus feeding crabs in the most polluted rivers in China! In other words, this was evidence that the Mariana Trench is the most PCB polluted area of the entire ocean!
Between the 1930s and the 1970s, it is estimated that 1.3 million tonnes of PCBs were produced and released into the environment before they were banned. About sixty-five percent of these PCBs are now found in landfills, slowly escaping into our ground water and other bodies of water. Some are still hidden inside electrical equipment that has not yet been put in rubbish removal. More than thirty percent are found in marine sediments!
Professor Jamieson’s team expected to find at least traces of these nasty pollutants in the deep recesses of the Mariana Trench. However, even as scientists, top experts in this field, they were utterly shocked to find the levels of these toxins so extraordinarily high in the deepest reaches of the deep sea! In an interview with The Guardian, Professor Jamieson described the level of contamination they found in the animals they sampled as “sky high!”
The only other place on Earth that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been found in as high levels is Suruga Bay off the coastline of Japan. This bay was previously considered by many experts as the most polluted site in the world. If you’re a science fiction buff, you may recall that in the 1971 movie, “Godzilla vs. Hedorah,” Hedorah was a monster feeding off the deeply contaminated sludge resting at the bottom of Suruga Bay. It was insinuated, in fact, that it was the pollutants that turned Hedorah into a monster. “Hedoro” is the Japanese word for mud. Now, given Professor Jamieson’s results, the Mariana Trench has been found to be just as polluted.
With this research, and other recent research producing similar results, we can no longer have the security of imagining the deep sea as a pristine place. We cannot even think of the deep sea as a remote place that is less adulterated with our rubbish removal than our beaches and sea surface. It appears, in fact, that the deep sea is operating as a “sink” for human generated rubbish removal. Further, it appears that the most toxic portions of this rubbish removal are becoming more concentrated in the sediments and bioaccumulating as detritus feeders eat these sediments and then these toxins get magnified up the food chain.
We now know that no place on Earth is safe from human generated rubbish removal. This is why Clearabee, the largest and most respected rubbish removal service in the UK, is on a mission to divert as much rubbish removal from our landfills as possible. Clearabee also encourages litter picks and cleanups of fly tipped areas. As a leader in sustainable business practices, Clearabee not only talks a good talk, they walk the walk! We need more businesses like Clearabee.