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North Atlantic Ocean Garbage Patch

Posted by feww on February 24, 2010

Researchers Map the North Atlantic Ocean Garbage Patch

A high concentration of plastic garbage is polluting the Atlantic Ocean north of the Caribbean, says a new study by researchers from SEA, the University of Hawaii and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


Plastic marine debris collected in a surface plankton net tow. Credit: SEA

Kara Lavendar Law, one of the principal researchers,  announced the findings of a 22-year study at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, US.

Dr Lavender Law said that she and her team of Sea Education Association undergraduates had picked up 64,000 plus small pieces of plastic garbage measuring up to 1cm across, using fine mesh nets  towed by a research boat.

“We found a region fairly far north in the Atlantic Ocean where this debris appears to be concentrated and remains over long periods of time,” she said.

“More than 80% of the plastic pieces we collected in the tows were found between 22 and 38 degrees north. So we have a latitude for [the patch where the] rubbish seems to accumulate.”


Mahi mahi caught using hand line in the North Pacific Ocean. Dissection of the fish revealed a piece of plastic embedded in its stomach. Source: SEA

The “plastic density” was a maximum of about 200,000 pieces of garbage per square kilometer, Dr Lavender Law said. “That’s a maximum that is comparable with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

“We know that many marine organisms are consuming these plastics and we know this has a bad effect on seabirds in particular.” She said.

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2 Responses to “North Atlantic Ocean Garbage Patch”

  1. Molly said

    this is sad!

  2. […] North Atlantic Ocean Garbage Patch […]

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