When you think of Canada's oceans, bays and lakes you don't often think about garbage. The Bay of Fundy garbage is a serious problem and millions of pieces of trash litter the seafloor. New video data put out by researchers shows just how bad the situation is.
The popular bay is a beautiful natural landscape between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick but lurking below the surface is millions of pieces of garbage, most of it plastic.
According to a new study, there are an estimated 1.8 million pieces of plastic and other junk on the seafloor of the Bay of Fundy.
Through a video survey, researchers were able to look at the situation on the seafloor, identify what types of garbage it is and estimate how much there is.
About 51 percent of the total trash spotted in the Bay of Fundy is plastic, another 28 percent is fishing gear which is also made up of plastic and the remaining 21 percent is uncategorized and consists of cables, metal, tires and more.
"There is a potential for it to have negative impacts. A precautionary principle should kick in, and we should do our best to avoid this pollution," said Tony Walker, one of the authors of the study and assistant professor at Dalhousie University, to The Canadian Press.
Morning! 👋 Researchers now estimate the Bay of Fundy has over 1.8 million pieces of plastic in it. 51% is mostly p… https://t.co/6MSTwbwlwf— Stephen Punwasi (@Stephen Punwasi) 1573822664.0
To figure out all this information, researchers attached a high-resolution video camera to a survey boat and scanned 248 sites in the body of water for three years.
Some odd objects were spotted like a car tire encrusted in barnacles and gloves but most of the litter on the seafloor is stuff people use every day like plastic grocery bags.
With all this waste at the bottom, potential habitats for marine animals are no longer possible in those areas.
"A tire made of rubber or some metal is actually occupying space that would be benthic habitat for micro-organisms and small invertebrates," said Walker.
Benthic is the scientific term meaning the bottom of a body of water.
The Bay of Fundy is known for its spectacular tides that actually allow people to walk along the seafloor during low tide.
But one of the seven wonders of North America with the highest tides in the world has a garbage problem.
"We need to work with the industry to find better ways to manage solid waste," said Alexa Goodman, lead author of the study, to The Canadian Press.
The study also stated that the debris wasn't concentrated in just one area but was widespread and mainly located nine kilometres from the shore.
On October 30, Nova Scotia passed legislation that bans single-use plastic bags in the province but the law won't officially come into effect for a year.
Only time will tell if legislation like that will help stop new garbage from entering the water there.
Researchers are hoping this information will be useful to governments in implementing strategies to reduce waste and marine pollution like limiting plastic use and reducing illegal dumping.