discovering a swirling patch of plastic bottles, bags and other bits
of debris in both the North
Pacific Ocean and throughout
the Atlantic Ocean, another potential
garbage patch has been uncovered in the coastal seas of
majority of the Earth's oceans are remote and untouched by garbage
and debris, but as researchers take to the sea more frequently,
they're finding that plastic trash is reaching even the most distant
waters. According to Anna Cummins, an environmental activist who
sailed the Atlantic in February collecting plastic samples,
"Humanity's plastic footprint is probably more dangerous than
Pacific Garbage Patch was predicted after Alaska-based
researchers obtained results from measuring neustonic plastic in the
North Pacific Ocean between 1985 and 1988. In 1988, a paper on the
topic was published by the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Later, in 1997,
Oceanographer and racing boat captain Charles J. Moore stumbled upon
a large spread of debris in the North Pacific Gyre after a sailing
this year, an Atlantic Garbage Patch was discovered as well. Cummins
and Markus Eriksen found the patch during a sailing trip to the
Sargasso Sea. Water samples were taken every 100 miles from the
seabed, each sample turning up more plastic debris.
Antarctica is at risk as well. According to surveys taken during the
austral summer of 2007-2008, even the most secluded seas such as the
Davis and Durmont D'Urville contained fishing buoys and a plastic
cup. The British
Antarctic Survey and Greenpeace skimmed
surface waters and even dug into the seabed all over the Antarctic
region in search of possible debris. In addition to garbage found in
the Davis and Durmont D'Urville seas, plastic packaging was found in
the Amundsen Sea.
seabeds immediately surrounding continental Antarctica are probably
the last environments on the planet yet to be reached by plastics,"
wrote the research team from the British Antarctic Survey to the
Environmental Research. "But
with pieces floating into the surface of the Amundsen Sea, this seems
likely to change soon. Our knowledge now touches every sea, but so
does our legacy of lost and discarded plastic."
research team on this expedition, led by David Barnes of the British
Antarctic Survey, noted that despite the plastic and debris found in
Antarctica, the sledges dragged along the seafloor revealed that the
Antarctic ecosystem is "healthy" and "vibrant."
Some pieces of plastic may have reached the surface of these desolate
waters, but they haven't reached the ocean
floor in these areas yet. But researchers are expecting this
to change as well.