To paraphrase the immortal words of Diana Ross and the Supremes, ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough to keep us from mucking it up. Case in point? The Pacific Ocean’s Mariana and Kermadec trenches, both tens of thousands of feet deep, remain two of the planet’s most inaccessible reaches. But even they are not immune to environmental damage from humans.
Samples of amphipods—tiny, shrimp-like scavengers who call these dark, impenetrable depths home—have revealed “extraordinary levels” of persistent organic pollutants, according to new research. These included long-banned or restricted chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, both of which are thought to cause neurological, immune, and reproductive issues, or even cancer.