Ocean Plastic: Part Four – An Update from 5 Gyres Institute

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Sea Dragon-Hi RezResearchers from the 5 Gyres Institute recently completed a 4,100 mile journey from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town, South Africa. They collected 67 water samples in search of plastic debris throughout the Southern Atlantic ocean.

“Every sample contained small fragments of plastic,” said Anna Cummins, 5 Gyres co-founder. As they approached the Southern Atlantic gyre, they encountered larger debris such as “hundreds of large floating objects, including fishing buoys, nets, buckets, crates, water bottles and construction hard hats.”

“We have confirmed our suspicion that plastic marine pollution is a global issue, and not confined to the Northern Hemisphere,” said Marcus Eriksen, Ph.D., co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute. The 5 Gyres crew, along with their collaborators at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF), have previously discovered plastic pollution in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Indian Ocean.

The research is intended to answer questions about the global impact of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. By no means is the plastic debris contained in definable garbage patches. This raises serious questions: How can this kind of pollution be cleaned up? To what degree is consumerism to blame? How does plastic waste in the ocean affect marine life and, ultimately, our food supply?

Read Part 2 of this Ocean Plastic series for more information about previous research results in the Pacific Ocean.

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