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Photos: Trash Litters Deep Seafloor

Trashing the Seafloor

ocean garbage, ocean pollution, ocean trash

(Image credit: © 2006 MBARI.)

In their 25 years of exploring the deep seafloor, researchers with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California have discovered trash and debris littering the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Most of the garbage was recyclables such as plastic bottles, soda and food cans. But plastic bags, shoes and even shipping containers make their way to the deep ocean depths, 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) below the surface.

Trapped tire

ocean garbage, ocean pollution, ocean trash

(Image credit: © 2009 MBARI.)

A discarded tire sits on a ledge 2,850 feet (868 m) below the ocean surface in Monterey Canyon off the central California coast.

Plastic-choked coral

ocean garbage, ocean pollution, ocean trash

(Image credit: © 2006 MBARI.)

Deep-sea currents wrapped this plastic bag around a gorgonian coral almost 7,000 feet (2,115 m) below the ocean surface in Astoria Canyon, off the coast of Oregon.

Discarded drum

ocean garbage, ocean pollution, ocean trash

(Image credit: © 2007 MBARI.)

This 55-gallon drum sits on the seafloor at 9,488 feet (2,892 meters) in the outer reaches of California's offshore Monterey Canyon.

Recyclable refuse

ocean garbage, ocean pollution, ocean trash

(Image credit: © 2006 MBARI/NOAA.)

This Coke bottle with Asian lettering was found at Davidson Seamount, 60 miles (96 kilometers) offshore and 5,666 feet (1,727 m) below the ocean surface. The seamount is an underwater volcano off the central California coast.

Crabby clutter

ocean garbage, ocean pollution, ocean trash

(Image credit: © 2006 MBARI.)

This crab trap was found in Astoria Canyon off the coast of Oregon, at a depth of 3,580 feet (1,091 meters).

Wasted sole

ocean garbage, ocean pollution, ocean trash

(Image credit: © 2010 MBARI.)

A young rockfish hides in a discarded shoe found 1,548 feet (472 m) deep in San Gabriel Canyon off the Southern California coast.

New hardscape

ocean garbage, ocean pollution, ocean trash

(Image credit: NOAA/MBARI.)

In 2004, 15 shipping containers were lost from a ship just outside of Monterey Bay. Later that same year, MBARI discovered one of the containers resting on the seafloor, 4,200 feet (1,280 m) below the surface. This 2011 photo shows marine life colonizing the container, a rare hard surface on the soft seafloor.

Fishing gear

ocean garbage, ocean pollution, ocean trash

(Image credit: © 2012 MBARI.)

A tangle of rope and fishing gear lies on the seafloor about 3,280 feet (1,000 m) deep in California's Monterey Canyon.