Science Atlantic-ocean-plastic-garbage-patch

Published on April 16th, 2010 | by Joshua S Hill

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Second Garbage Patch Confirmed in Atlantic Ocean

 

Planet Earth’s oceans now have a second confirmed garbage patch filled with plastic detritus.

The discovery of the first garbage patch is credited to Charles Moore, an ocean researcher who discovered the large patch of plastic floating in the Pacific in 1997. Now, the Atlantic can lay claim to a human produced waste patch of its own.

Wife and husband team Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in February between Bermuda and Portugal’s mid-Atlantic Azores Islands. In the middle of the Atlantic is the Sargasso Sea, an area surrounded by various ocean currents, including the well known Gulf Stream. The pair took samples ever 100 miles (160 kilometres) and each time they pulled up their trawl it was full of plastic.

“We found the great Atlantic garbage patch,” said Anna Cummins. “Our job now is to let people know that plastic ocean pollution is a global problem – it unfortunately is not confined to a single patch.”

Why the importance on letting people know that this is a problem? Because there is no feasible way to go about cleaning up the ocean garbage patches.

This is not a new discovery, but rather a confirmation of long held beliefs and smaller studies. One such study is that by undergraduates at the Woods Hole, Massachusetts-based Sea Education Association, who have been collecting more than 6,000 samples on trips between Canada and the Caribbean over two decades. The lead investigator, Kara Lavendar Law, said they found the highest concentrations of plastics between 22 and 38 degrees north latitude, an offshore patch equivalent to the area between roughly Cuba and Washington, D.C.

“It’s shocking to see it firsthand,” Cummins said. “Nothing compares to being out there. We’ve managed to leave our footprint really everywhere.”

Putting aside the sheer absurdity that humans believe we can just pollute the planet until it dies, these garbage patches provide a huge danger to animals, both water based and air based. Plastics entangle birds while fish unwittingly mistake small bits of plastic for plankton and other edible treats. Countless stories exist of fish being caught and their bellies being full of plastic debris.

Don’t care about the animals? Listen to Lisa DiPinto, acting director of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “That plastic has the potential to impact our resources and impact our economy.”

So pay attention next time there’s a recycle drive in your area, or when you’re down at the beach and finished with your bottle of water.

Source: Physorg




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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.



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  • http://Web jph

    the problem is not the consumers, its the big businesses that refuse to recycle

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  • http://PLEASERECYCLEANDREDUCEUSEOFPLASTIC Alohatraveler

    My housemate just told me he can’t recycle something because it has stuff in it. Oh. I see. WTF?

    The definition of recycling, you see, is that you by a plactic container that has something IN IT! You use it up, and then you rinse it out… and you RECYCLE THE CONTAINER because you don’t need it anymore… and neither does the planet so you RECYCLE IT. You can USE IT AGAIN… or you can give it a quick wash and send it away to be remade into a lawn chair or something else.

    DUH!

  • James Crow

    Number one, plastic crap like this that is meant to be thrown away should not be legal to manufacture. Plain and simple. End of problem. And screw the big corporations who've been foisting this plastic garbage on the world for decades. They made your worthless money now go away. Number two, in reality this worldwide society based on making garbage and selling it to people is a crime against humanity – or what there is left of humanity. Don't you see that everything humanity has created for the most part is our own slow death?

  • Eggums

    It makes me so sad to see our oceans in this state! Ok, we have garbage trucks for cities, let's create large ocean shipstankers that suck up the debris & sorters inside that sort out what can be recycled. Next – put a stop to all this plactic INSANITY!?!?!

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  • Flower Momma

    This makes me sick! We NEED to do something about it NOW!!! This isn’t just one person’s problem, we ALL live here and have a responsability to take care of OUR home. Why have we created such a meterialistic generation of spoiled brats that don’t give a damn? People need to make taking care of our planet a priority for the sustainability of generations to come! This debris and garbage isn’t going to vanish, plastic doesn’t decompose nor does styro foam. Maybe everyone wants to live on a pile of garbage someday, drinking polluted water, and breathing toxic air. Think about it people, you’r Gucci purse and cell phone aren’t going to matter so much then. Live simple, less selfishly, make a smaller ecological footprint so babies today can run on the beach tomorrow =)

  • Michael

    this could be cleaned with everyday barge nets which have tiny meshs much like the size used for minnow fishing. yes it will catch fish aswell as garbage but the cleanup at the cost of a few fish for the greater good is required.

  • Michael

    this needs to be made a matter of world wide attention we need to push the world powers and presidents to send naval barges to clean this up as it is the start of the end. when oceans die the life that thrives on it dies thus the fall of humanity with the loss of ocean life.

  • JOSEPH BARLOW

    CO2 AUTO EMMISSION REDUCTION , FUEL EFFICENCY AND ENERGY INDEPENDENCE GO HAND IN HAND.
    THE ENGINES OF ENERGY INDEPENDENCE ARE
    THE STERLING
    THE EXHAUST GAS TURBINE
    THE ORGANIC RANKIN TURBINE
    THE JIRNOV VORTEX TURBINE
    THE JOHNSON THERMO ELECTRIC CONVERTOR
    THE OX2
    THE CYCLONE
    AND WITH UREA INJECTION THE HOT VAPOR CYCLE ENGINE OF SMOKEY YUNIK

    AS A TRADE SCHOOL TRAINED AUTO MECHANIC I WAS TAUGHT ABOUT ALTERNATIVE ENGINES. AFTER 25 YEARS I CHECKED TO SEE WHAT HAPPENED. MULTI FUEL OR ANY FUEL ENGINES ARE NOT ALLOWED.NO ONE CAN MONOPOLIZE FUEL SUPPLY

  • JKH

    Why not ‘fish’ for this garbage using fishing nets as we do fish themselves and at least try to clean it up. This will not solve everything, but we can start getting some of the bigger pieces. Can we pay fishermen looking for work (??) to do this by paying them for recycling material? Maybe augmented with some environmental research funds? I know this will not solve a repetitive problem, but we can at least take some action. Let’s recyle. Saying we can doing nothing is stupid – we can bring giant whales out of the ocean for heavens sake! We created this mess we need to clean it up.

  • Teri

    I agree with “Chris” harvest the resource for plastic lumber.

    • Zachary Shahan

      @ Teri & Chris, i think the problem would be that a lot of this plastic has already broken down & become tiny plastic particles that are not so easy to “clean up”, but this is definitely an idea!

  • Chris

    Simple, manufacture the free resource into plastic lumber, am I wrong?

  • AlanH

    The story is probably real enough. The photos are M-A-N-I-P-U-L-A-T-I-V-E. If you expect to be credible, don’t talk about large plastic-coated areas far at sea then show typical debris in a cove photographs.

    • Someone concerned

      It is possible to have it like that further out in the ocean but not so thick in the cove. Currents in the ocean swirld the heavy debree into a thick ‘patch’ where it is being broken into smaller and smaller pieces. In the coves it’s not as obvious because the smaller pieces make the ocean more like a plastic ‘minestrone’ type soupy mixture. Swirl your spoon in a glass of ice water really fast. where does the ice go? The middle. The currents in the ocean do the same thing with the plastic.

  • http://www.bottlesandmore.com Glass Bottles

    Thanks for making us aware of this problem. Those pictures are enough to make anyone sad. We need to make changes in the way we live our lives.

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