10,000 shipping containers are lost at sea each year and 10% of those hold toxic chemicals which may leak into the ocean
Right now, as you read this, there are five or six million shipping containers on enormous cargo ships sailing across the world’s oceans. And about every hour, on average, one is falling overboard never to be seen again. It’s estimated that 10,000 of these large containers are lost at sea each year, and our understanding of what happens to them afterwards is scant at best. But that’s changing. This month the Monterray Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) sent a robotic sub to investigate a shipping container that was lost in the Monterrey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 2004. What’s happened to the sunken shipment in the past seven years? It’s become a warren for a variety of aquatic life on the ocean floor, providing a new habitat for species that might otherwise not be attracted to the area. As the MBARI investigation continues to discover the destiny of drowned containers we will undoubtedly learn more about this (possibly) ecologically dangerous byproduct of our modern transportation system. Could a system such as the Internet of Things help prevent the growth of the waste we’re strewing across the seabed? Perhaps. Yet the importance of this situation may be less about the solutions to this one problem, and more about the unexpected consequences that follow the adoption of any technology.