a city the size of Toronto flushes hundreds of billions of microfibers into the ocean each year.
So this research at the very least snaps in place a missing piece of the microplastic cycle puzzle: A whole lot of particles are swirling in the Atlantic, and scientists have already shown to be the case in the Pacific, as well: California’s famous Monterey Bay—a famous conservation success story—is loaded with the stuff. And again, this new research only looked at the top 200 meters of the Atlantic, and the researchers were only looking at a particular size range of particles, and they didn’t include a tally of microfibers. So the real concentration of microplastics in the ocean may be far higher than this paper’s range of 12 to 21 million metric tons.
"And we say, OK, so that’s a minimum estimate, isn’t it?" says Lampitt. "Because when you’re looking at this size category, we’re only looking at these plastics. And we still come up with a colossal figure. So that’s where the alarm bells really start ringing."