Pacific garbage patch study shows alarming results

by Stephen Hurrell. Published Fri 28 Aug 2009 12:22, Last updated: 2009-08-28
SEAPLEX researchers spotted a large net tangled with plastic in the "garbage patch.

Scientists have completed an expedition to study the ‘Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch’ with alarming results.

The ‘gyre’ as it is known is a floating patch of plastic which scientists believe is the size of Texas. Plastic dumped in the sea breaks up, forming small particles of plastic which gathers in the gyre with a disastrous effect on eco-systems in the ocean.

The Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (SEAPLEX) surveyed the plastic 1,000 miles off the Californian coast and took samples to assess the size and impact of the gyre.

They found flecks of plastic were so abundant they were easily spotted in the water. Scientists found samples of sea life living in plastic bottles and a large net entangled with plastic and marine organisms.

The expedition was led by a team of Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) graduate students, with support from University of California Ship Funds, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Project Kaisei.
"SEAPLEX was an important education experience for the graduate students, and contributed to a better understanding of an important problem in the oceans," said Linda Goad, program director in NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences. "We hope that SEAPLEX will result in increased awareness of a growing issue."

After transiting for six days aboard the research vessel, the researchers reached their first intensive sampling site on August 9th.

Team members began 24-hour sampling periods using a variety of tow nets to collect debris at several ocean depths.

The findings show will now be analysed. "Finding so much plastic there was shocking," said Goldstein. "How could there be this much plastic floating in a random patch of ocean--a thousand miles from land?"

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Comments about Pacific garbage patch study shows alarming results

Governments could Give cosmetic manufacturers incentive to return to glass bottles
Mary Pugh, England around 4 years, 3 months ago

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