Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Children Swimming with Plastic Fragments"

Learning about the plastic accumulation in the North Pacific known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, I felt I needed to find out for myself if it were true or an urban legend.  I also wanted to know, if plastic accumulated in the ocean 1000s of miles away from land mass, did it happen in the other four oceans.  My latest journey across the center of the South Atlantic confirmed my suspicions.  I have now witnessed for myself that plastic is not only accumulating in the N. Pacific, N. Atlantic, and S. Atlantic,  but the photo degraded plastics mechanically broken down by the ocean are often times spit out onto some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  

Here are photos of a couple of samples we took in the S. Atlantic gyre.  Note the plastic fragments collected as well as marine life that is a viable food source for the base of our food chain.  It is easy to see how predators could mistake plastics for marine life that also gathers at the surface of the ocean. These plastic fragments are the same types of plastic bits I found washed onto the shores of Rio De Janeiro while children were playing in the ocean.

The first time I met with Captain Charlie Moore, (instrumental in bringing awareness to plastic marine pollution), he said to me, "If we don't stop plastic from getting into the marine environment, soon, our children will be swimming in it."  That was over two years ago.  At the time, he was talking about the North Pacific Garbage Patch expanding to the continental rim.  He was right in some respect, though Brazil is in the South Atlantic continental rim.  In this video you can actually see the same type of small fragments that we find in our open-ocean samples washing up on beaches in Brazil.  The fragments are extremely weathered which indicates it is not from a local source.

Should children be forced to play in ocean water laced with plastic?  Should marine life have to suffer because they confused plastic for food?

1 comment:

  1. At the time, he was speaking concerning the North Pacific Garbage Patch expanding for the continental rim.

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