Alan Jamieson remembers seeing it for the first time: a small, black fiber floating in a tube of liquid. It resembled a hair, but when Jamieson examined it under a microscope, he realized that the fiber was clearly synthetic—a piece of plastic. And worryingly, his student Lauren Brooks had pulled it from the gut of a small crustacean living in one of the deepest parts of the ocean.
“I imagine pollution in the Mariana Trench is an abstract concept for most people, but for those of us living in the Mariana Islands this has consequences for what ends up on our dinner plates,” says Angelo Villagomez, an indigenous Chamorro from the Mariana Islands who works for the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy.
“So what can we do? The International Union for the Conservation of Nature recommends we protect 30 percent of every marine habitat to address human impacts, but that will only help if we’re also sustainably managing the remaining 70 percent, reducing carbon emissions, and limiting the pollution being dumped in the ocean in the first place.”