New discovery shows Antarctica won't be immune from plastics

It was thought polar fronts could act as a barrier to things drifting down to Antarctica.
It was thought polar fronts could act as a barrier to things drifting down to Antarctica. Photo credit: Getty

A new discovery suggests Antarctica won't be immune from plastics entering the world's ecosystems.

Kelp has drifted thousands of kilometres to the frozen continent. In fact, scientists have identified kelp as drifting 20,000 kilometres from islands in the Southern Indian Ocean to the world's southernmost polar region. 

Professor Jon Waters says the kelp passed through barriers previously thought impenetrable. He says more storms and warming will see more material and new species arrive there.

"Even Antarctica is going to be affected. The species such as the penguins, the whales, etc, that live down there are not immune from the plastics that are entering the world's ecosystem at a really alarming rate," Prof Waters told Newshub.

He says kelp drifting so far from the Southern Indian Ocean defies the theory of polar fronts acting as a barrier.

"Under climate change, we're expecting more storm activity. So I think, whereas we thought Antarctica was isolated, we're going to find more and more that this [plastic] is going to make it down there."

Newshub.