Plastic marine debris collected in a surface plankton net tow. Photo: Sea Education Association.
Though it hasn't garnered nearly as much attention as its plastic-ridden analog in the Pacific, the North Atlantic Ocean too has its very own gigantic patch of floating plastic waste. Recently the 5 Gyres project has brought some attention to it, and now BBC News reports that scientists from the Sea Education Association have completed a 20 year study on it:In studying the problem, researchers completed over 6,000 passes with towed nets in the Caribbean and North Atlantic. Over 80% of the plastic pieces were found between 22 and 38° north latitude.
More than half of them picked up floating plastic on the water surface, mostly pieces of plastic from consumer products and plastic bags. Most of the pieces were no more than one centimeter across. The maximum density of plastic was found to be 200,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer--which is similar to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
WATCH VIDEO: Pacific Plastic, The Garbage Patch - The largest collection of waste plastic is in the Pacific where garbage has collected from all around the globe.
SEA Sailing From Bermuda This Summer for Further Plastic Study
Expanding on this research, SEA is planning another expedition this summer to study the accumulating plastic. The expedition will sail a 3300 nautical mile route some 1100 miles southeast of Bermuda, exploring a region not previously sampled. Sail is most often used not-literally these days, but in this case it is literal: The SEA expedition will travel on a 134-foot long brig rigged ship, the SSV Corwith Cramer.