To paraphrase the immortal words of Diana Ross and the Supremes, ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough to keep us from mucking it up.
The shocking findings of the new research were detailed in the most recent edition of the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. He stated that although it was previously thought the deep ocean is safe from human interaction, the levels of toxicity recorded in the amphipods' fatty tissue resemble those found in Suruga Bay, one of the most polluted industrial areas in the northwest Pacific.
Scientists were surprised to find PCBs, PBDEs and other chemical pollutants in high concentrations in deep sea ecosystems because these pollutants have been banned since the 1970s. The research team from Newcastle University, the James Hutton Institute and the University of Aberdeen caught and tested small crustaceans in the Mariana and Kermadec trenches, which reach about 30,000 feet deep. The chemicals may have found their way to the trenches through contaminated plastic waste and animal carcasses, which, like everything else in the ocean, eventually sink to the floor, where they're devoured by resident fauna.
POPs accumulate in fat and are therefore concentrated in creatures up the food chain. The compounds could recirculate back to the surface as scavengers like amphipods fall prey to larger predators.
"It's not a great legacy that we're leaving behind", said Alan Jamieson in his closing statement.
"The researchers said, "[The study] provided clear evidence that the deep ocean, rather than being remote, is highly connected to surface waters and has been exposed to significant concentrations of human-made pollutants".