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Plastic is found in even the most remote seas

After 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 Antarctica. 

A 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 its carbon footprint."

The Great 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 race.

Earlier 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. 

Now, 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. 

"The 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 journal Marine 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."

The 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.



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RE: What's the problem?
By invidious on 6/30/2010 2:13:49 PM , Rating: -1
If you want to pay more for biodegradable plastic be my guest. My taxes keep my beaches clean, other nation's taxes can keep their beaches clean. Why should I care how clean the water surrounding Antarctica is? Fish can swim around it, its not killing the whales, who cares? This is a non-issue.

If you care about the ocean do something that matters and help clean up the oil spill.


RE: What's the problem?
By Etern205 on 6/30/2010 2:30:27 PM , Rating: 2
The garbage patch isn't a bunch of large objects jumbled together. In fact it's a bunch of microscopic debris like plastic bits and so forth which can't escape due to the gyres that keeps it in its place and fish can't swim around it.

It's time for you to take your head out of your ass as your lack of intelligence is clearly showing.


RE: What's the problem?
By MozeeToby on 6/30/2010 2:32:19 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, it does kill the whales. See the thing is that plastic doesn't biodegrade but it does slowly break into smaller and smaller pieces. Eventually the pieces are small enough that whales (and other animals) mistake them for krill and try to eat them. When they get even smaller they can't even be seen and they end up clogging fish's gills, getting into eyes, etc.


RE: What's the problem?
By BZDTemp on 6/30/2010 2:37:02 PM , Rating: 3
I nominate "invidious" as the most egotistical person of the day!

"Why should you care", "Fish can swim around it", "My taxes keep my beaches clean"... damn you must really make your parents proud.

Can you not see that the issue reported on here is a symptom of a really big problem. I think it is sad you have so little compassion and imagination.

Please do the rest of us a favor and do your best to get nominated for a Darwin award as soon as possible.


RE: What's the problem?
By AstroGuardian on 6/30/2010 6:21:13 PM , Rating: 3
Why clean the oil spill? Fish can swim though it... So it's a non-issue... no matter if they are dead afterward.

I can't believe there are creatures which are disgrace to nature such as yourself..


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