Garbage Patch Redux

An Atlantic Garbage Patch was recently discovered.© Sierra Club

Hundreds of miles off the North American coast, covering a region between Cuba and Virginia, researchers from Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, have discovered an Atlantic Garbage Patch. As with its cousin the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a gyre of marine litter larger than the state of Texas) plastics have been circulating in the Atlantic Ocean for years, presenting health risks to fish, seabirds and other marine animals that accidentally ingest the matter.

It is thought that the organisms affected by ingesting the plastics might adversely affect humans that eat those sea creatures as well. Not only do the garbage and plastics present a severe health hazard to animals, but the plastics also cause death to animals via entanglement, strangling and the like.

Using data collected from the Pacific Garbage Patch, Kara Lavender Law of SEA estimates that the trash in this collection of garbage might reach as deep as 65 feet below the ocean’s surface. Giora Proskurowski, also with SEA, said finding plastic so far out in either ocean "forces us into physical confrontation with the human impact on the environment."