Scientists find ten times more microplastics than expected in the Atlantic Ocean

There's ten times more plastic in the Atlantic Ocean than previously thought. That's according to scientists at the Oceanography Centre in Southampton.

Researchers have looked at the surface of the ocean, and into three types of plastic, but the real quantity could be much much higher. 

The danger of 'invisible microplastics' to marine and human life isn't yet understood. 

Scientists have taken samples from the surface of the ocean

Dr Katsia expected to find micro plastics in the Atlantic, but the amount took her by surprise, and Southampton's scientists have only taken samples from the top 200m - that's just 5% of the body of the Ocean.

  • Dr  Katsiaryna Pabortsava, National Oceanography Centre

Scientists cool the lasers that detect the three most common types of plastics used in packaging. But there are more than three types of plastic, the others are yet to be studied.

Samples of microplastics are cooled in the laboratory
Samples of microplastics are cooled by scientists

Since the 1950's when we started using plastic, hundreds of millions of tonnes has gone to waste.

The Microplastics Southampton scientists found in the Atlantic, there are part broken down items like bottles and bags, as well as micro beads from skincare products.

The current use of single plastic gloves and aprons for coronovirus will add to the plastic problem.

And until scientists know how much plastic is in our oceans, what size, what type and how long it lasts, they won't know the damage it can do.