The biggest pile of garbage in the ocean is teeming with floating life

Two non-profit organizations are working to remove floating plastic from the Great Pacific Patch. The largest, the Ocean Cleanup Foundat...


Two non-profit organizations are working to remove floating plastic from the Great Pacific Patch. The largest, the Ocean Cleanup Foundation in the Netherlands, has developed a net specifically to collect and concentrate marine debris as it is carried along the sea surface by winds and currents. Once the net is full, a vessel brings its contents ashore for proper disposal.

Dr Helm and other scientists warn that such nets threaten marine life, including Neuston. Although adjustments to the net design have been made to reduce bycatch, Dr Helm believes any large-scale removal of plastic from the patch could pose a threat to its inhabitants of Neuston.

“When it comes to what to do with the plastic that’s already in the ocean, I think we have to be very careful,” she said. The results of his study “really underscore the need to study the open ocean before attempting to manipulate it, modify it, clean it, or extract minerals from it.”

Laurent Lebreton, an oceanographer at the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, disagreed with Dr Helm.

“It is too early to draw conclusions about how we should respond to this study,” he said. “You have to consider the effects of plastic pollution on other species. We collect several tons of plastic every week with our system – plastic that affects the environment.

Plastic in the ocean poses a threat to marine life, killing more than a million seabirds each year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals, according to UNESCO. Everything from fish to whales can get tangled, and animals often mistake it for food and end up starving with stomachs full of plastic.

Ocean plastics that don’t eventually suffocate an albatross or entangle an elephant seal eventually break down into microplastics, which enter all branches of the food web and are nearly impossible to remove from the environment.

One thing everyone agrees on is that we need to stop the flow of plastic into the ocean.

“We have to turn off the tap,” Mr. Lecomte said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The biggest pile of garbage in the ocean is teeming with floating life
The biggest pile of garbage in the ocean is teeming with floating life
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