mapping the plastic garbage patch

Sea Education Association theoretical map of plastic marine debris _

“A previously undefined expanse of the western North Atlantic has been found to contain high concentrations of plastic debris, comparable to those observed in the region of the Pacific commonly referred to as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”,” is posted on the homepage of the Sea Education Association [SEA] website [].  SEA has been studying plastic marine debris for over 20 years.  the above image is a theoretical estimate of the plastic debris that is floating in our oceans.  i came across it in a Wired magazine ad [] that describes some of SEA’s methods for studying this topic.  i found this to be the most striking passage from the article, “One surprising conclusion of the study found the concentration of plastic in the North Atlantic has remained fairly steady during the past 22 years despite a five-fold increase in global plastic production and a four-fold increase in the amount of plastic the United States discards.” one of the professors and oceanographers from SEA, Kara Lavender Law, explains some of the reasons why this may be happening in an NPR interview that can be heard on their website []  i’m not an oceanographer or a plastics expert but i’d like to pose some questions that came to me immediately after reading this.  do the plastics we produce today break down and erode faster than those that were produced 30 years ago?  how much plastic is at the bottom of the ocean?





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