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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Garbage Blight - Second Patch of Plastic Soup Spotted in Atlantic

Oct 02, 2010 03:02PM
A rising tide of consumer plastics, jettisoned into the oceans via rivers, storm drains, sewage overflows and windstorms, is devastating the environment across the world, says Charles Moore, the ocean researcher credited with discovering a vast, plastics-infested area in the Pacific Ocean in 1997. Now, his Algalita Marine Research Foundation researchers have defined a second vortex of garbage in the Atlantic Ocean. The soup of confetti-like bits of plastics stretches over thousands of square miles of the western North Atlantic, with the densest concentrations between the latitudes of Virginia and Cuba, including the unique Sargasso Sea ecosystem.

Sea Education Association (SEA) oceanography faculty member Kara Lavender Law, Ph.D., clarifies: “There’s no large patch, no solid mass of material. If it were an island, we could go get it. But we can’t; it’s a thin soup of plastic fragments.” SEA, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, which has monitored the North Atlantic for 22 years, expects that several such areas exist in the world’s oceans.

The plastic soup has essentially become a permanent part of the ecosystem, posing harm to the entire marine food chain. The only remedy is to halt the influx of consumer plastics by producing less of them and recycling them all. Public education is key.

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