A swirling 'soup' of tiny pieces of plastic has been found in the Atlantic Ocean, and something similar may be present in other ocean areas as well.
When Sylvia Earle began diving in 1952, the ocean was pristine. These days, things are different.
“For the past 30 years I have never been on a dive anytime, anywhere, from the surface to 2-1/2 miles deep, without seeing a piece of trash,” says the renowned oceanographer and former chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “There’s life from the surface to the greatest depths – and there’s also trash from the surface to the greatest depths.”
Dr. Earle’s experience illustrates the rising tide of plastic accumulating in the world’s oceans.
And while the Pacific Ocean has garnered much attention for what some call the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch” – a vast expanse of floating plastic deposited in the middle of the ocean by circulating currents – the problem doesn’t stop there.
New research shows that plastic has collected in a region of the Atlantic as well, held hostage by converging currents, called gyres, to form a swirling “plastic soup.” And those fragments of plastic could also be present at the other three large gyres in the world’s oceans, says Kara Lavender Law, a member of the oceanography faculty at the Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, Mass., which conducted the study.
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