Ocean Plastic: Part One – 5 Gyres Institute

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The 5 Gyres Institute is leading the world’s first voyage of its kind to show that every ocean on the globe is polluted with plastic garbage. In collaboration with Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF) and Pangea Explorations, the expedition will attempt to document the harm being done to marine wildlife and examine the potentially harmful effects on human health.

In geographical terms, gyre refers to a rotating system of ocean currents. It is here that floating debris accumulates. The research efforts aim to document plastic pollution in each of the five, global gyres located in the North and South Pacific Ocean, the North and South Atlantic Ocean, and the Indian Ocean.

Anna Cummins, co-founder of the 5 Gyre Institute, warns that the scourge is not confined to a single, mythical “Texas-size garbage patch.” She insists that no ocean is free of plastic pollution.

Part of the research effort will focus on whether or not humans are being affected by eating fish that have ingested plastic debris contaminated with pollutants such as DDT and PCBs.

5 Gyres’ Rio-to-Cape Town voyage will be aboard Pangaea Explorations’ racing sloop, Sea Dragon. The Sea Dragon crew will communicate via blogs with more than 1,850 Los Angeles school children through AMRF’s Ship-2-Shore Education program. Charles Moore, AMRF’s founder, was the first put the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on the map.

The expedition leaves on November 8. For updates, follow the Sea Dragon blog or the 5 Gyres blog.

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