Thousands of shipping containers are lost from cargo vessels each year. Many of these containers eventually sink to the deep seafloor. In 2004, researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) discovered a lost shipping container almost 1,300 meters (4,200 feet) below the surface of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In the first ever survey of its kind, researchers from MBARI and the Sanctuary recently described how deep-sea animal communities on and around the container differed from those in surrounding areas.
The red dots seen in some of the underwater footage are lasers mounted on the remotely operated submersible. The lasers are 29 cm apart and allow the scientists to estimate animal size.
Video editor: Kyra Schlining
Script and narration: Josi Taylor
Production support: James Barry, Kim Fulton-Bennett, Linda Kuhnz, Lonny Lundsten, Nancy Jacobsen Stout, Susan vonThun
For more information visit:
MBARI press release:
Taylor, J.R., DeVogelaere, A.P., Burton, E.J., Frey, O., Lundsten, L., Kuhnz, L.A., Whaling, P.J., Lovera, C., Buck, K.R., Barry J.P. (2014) Deep-sea faunal communities associated with a lost intermodal shipping container in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, CA. Marine Pollution Bulletin
Special thanks to Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot (PLANET OCEAN/HOPE PRODUCTION) for the beautiful aerial container footage.
Very interesting! Related to this I highly recommend reading 'Into The Raging Sea', the true story of the ill-fated cargo ship the El Faro that headed straight into Hurricane Joaquin off San Salvador Island in the Bahamas and sank to 15,000 feet with 100's of shipping containers and automobiles aboard. All 33 crewmembers aboard perished. The book is based on black box recordings of all bridge conversations until the final moments. Additionally the author diligently adds context by delving into owners of the vessel and industry politics surrounding maritime shipping. I think measures can be taken through technology to ensure that some containers can be retrieved quickly, or at least send automatic GPS location so that we can track and evaluate the potential threat to the seafloor ecosystem based on the container contents. But check out the book!!!
Honestly, Unless there was something hazardous/toxic inside that could potentially leak out, I really dont see this being any worse for the sea than sunken vehicles (Planes, ships, ETC) considering most of them contained at least some remnants of fuel, and most often are also panted. I imagine in time, the steel or what ever the container is made of will either "rot" away and settle on the ocean floor or stay there and become some sort of artificial habitat for the critters, like they seem to be doing already.
Don't we have enough evidence of what happens to metal objects when they lay on the sea floor? I mean after all, ships have been sinking and decaying for years before we started using shipping containers to transport goods. I think a much better use of your resources would be to figure out what impact the CONTENTS of those containers is having on the ecology, because it can't be good.
I dont understand the apparent disregard for immediate removal of the container (potential toxic contents) in favour of some ridiculous scientific research regarding paint on the surface. You can always submerge a similar piece of metal and do research on that. The important thing is to remove this container from the water.
What a fucked up world we have nowadays.
All I see is an ecological catastrophe sitting on the sea floor that's gone out of control. China, the biggest industrial mass and their population explosion is destroying this planet at a rate of one year destruction every 5 years. Shame we've come to this mentality of destroying the planet yet we haven't found another one.
Oh you also found out its good for the environment. Best is, you talk all around it, not even mentioning that 20 meters outside the container, there is NO life on the sea floor. Fact that the container is there, has given life a spawning ground. How about now in 2019??? can you go back & investigate ? Or are you too busy trying to sell the same blatantly BS agenda as other "environmentalists" ? One day you will see that our impact as humans is really not as negative as folks who want to sell the $0.10 light bulb to you for $5, want you to believe. THERE IS NO!!!!! CARBON PROBLEMS!!!! The moment out atmospheric carbon goes up by another 500 %, plants will love us for it & guess what, the temperature won't rise enough to melt ANYTHING!!!. You will see plants grow much bigger leaves & produce much larger crops....THAT YEAR!!!.... not 5 years later. We as humans and all other animals will still breath & not notice it even if it rises by 2000 %. So guess what hippies...Because you're idiots, money hungry zionists have fooled you into their idiotic cause....WELL DONE!!!! you can all msg. me & I'll print your fucking idiot certificates out for you. You've graduated.
@THE BOOK OF KENT You want to pretend like the whole green industry is NOT a zionist agenda ? You like paying $5.00 for a $0.20 light bulb ? Who do you think the masters of manipulatory ways of money making are ? Where do you think 1/10th to the church/god comes from ? God himself ?
Had a buddy work for the railroad rip. I asked what was the coolest thing he found while working there. He said there was a break in on a railcar he discovers a box of nikes I said cool he said yeah but they were all left footed shoes...lol
What I love about life is that NOTHING is a "waste".
Yes it's shitty that we are polluting the Earth, but in some ways it can be a good thing. In this case the container has provided shelter for these creatures.
When the container eventually does break dow the tires inside will also provide shelter.
Ones man trash is another creatures shelter.
That being said don't use this as an excuse... Many animals also die because of trash...
I just find it interesting how nature and life has unique ways of making use of everything.
More environmentally damaging is the container ship pumping out thousands of tons of bunker fuel exhaust. It's a fact that a single mega container ship puts out as much emissions as 50,000,000 cars. A few containers lost on the sea floor is trivial.
Not all of the containers sink. Many are navigational hazards particularly to smaller ships. They should require the cargo shippers to invest in the recovery of lost containers starting with the ones that have not sunk.
Just think how much the ocean levels would go down if everything that was down there was pulled up.
All ships, all airplanes, containers, all the toxic waste containers disposed of, and probably alot of stuff we'll never know of!
Mass underwater takes up space, right?
She didn't give all the reasons and jumped straight to toxicity. What if they don't like the smooth surfaces and can't grow there? What if they have a symbiotic relationship with a crap that cleans them and the crab needs the rock? What if the current is too strong there? There are hundreds of reasons and they instantly go straight to toxicity.
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