In May, retired American naval officer Victor Vescovo dived nearly 10, 927m in a submarine to a point in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench regarded as the deepest place on Earth.
That dive went 16m deeper than the previous record descent in 1960. Incredibly, frighteningly too, Vescovo found litter believed to be plastic, the flotsam and jetsam of our consumer lifestyles, at that incredible depth.
That discovery, despite its implications, was so far away, so remote that it might have been dismissed by those still trying to pretend that our impact on the world is not one of relentless misuse.
That denial, however, cannot stand. Yesterday morning University College Cork researchers returned after investigating cold-water coral habitats in a submarine canyon — deep enough to stand 10 Eiffel Towers inside — some 320km west of Dingle.
They, like Vescovo, discovered plastic in the deeps, this time at a relatively modest depth depth of 2,125m.
The discovery was made by UCC’s Marine Geology Research group in cold-water coral habitats in the Porcupine Bank Canyon, due west of Kerry.
They fear the coral may be contaminated by microplastics too.
One of the features of this crisis is that we all imagine that someone else must modify their behaviour to try to avert climate catastrophe and the further destruction of oceans. Not so.
We are all responsible and increasingly vulnerable.