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The 5 Gyres Project: Update From the Sargasso Sea

My friends Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins have sent an update from what they have found in the Sargasso Sea. I reported earlier on the two who, along with their shipmates, are taking part in the 5 Gyres project, an attempt to determine how much plastic is floating in the worlds oceans and where it is coming from.

Having just landed in Bermuda, after starting in St. Thomas and crossing the Sargasso, they report having found plastic debris in every trawl that they pulled in on their journey.

The amount of plastic the researchers found is nowhere near the amount they found in the North Pacific Gyre. “But it was still remarkable to find plastic in every single sample,” Cummins said. The accumulation was worse in windrows, surface rivers created by currents populated with a dense, seaweed-like plant called Sargassum that traps the plastic.

“In the Sargassum, we found bottle caps, shot gun shells, and boots,” Cummins said. “I’ve never seen anything like the plastic on the beaches here. They’re just covered with plastic. It’s much worse than the beaches in California.” After studying current trends, the team believes the detritus was carried by the Gulf Stream and started its life as plastic discarded by people in the East Coast.

Cummins and Eriksen will meet with officials in Bermuda, including U.S. Consul General Grace Shelton, and then head back across the Sargasso to the Azores to study a different part of the ocean. You can follow their adventures on the 5 Gyres blog.



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Dave Chameides

Dave Chameides is a filmmaker and environmental educator. His website and newsletter are designed to inspire thought and dialogue on environmental solutions and revolve around the idea that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. "Give people the facts, and they'll choose to do the right thing."


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3:49PM PST on Mar 9, 2013

Thank you, it's people like this we need more in the world. Here in Canada lots of the Sargassum washes up on the shores of Nova Scotia. There are lots of things like garbage caught in it. One time I found a dead fish in a plastic bag on one of the many beaches.

8:29AM PDT on Apr 4, 2012

While we all may be able to pool together collectively to reduce the amount that adds to this, and it will take a lot more than a couple of articles on Care2 to get people to really become aware and actively participate, what is going to be done about the mass now floating out there?

5:50AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Thanks for the article.

8:30PM PDT on Jun 21, 2011

Yes, let's clean up the sea of plastics. Plastics can cause death to marine life. Wishing you success on the Gyres Project.

6:56PM PDT on Jun 21, 2011

thank you

6:56PM PDT on Jun 21, 2011

thank you

8:42AM PDT on Apr 22, 2010

Please sign this petition to support Marine Health Implementations

8:42AM PDT on Apr 22, 2010

Please sign this petition to support Marine Health Implementations

5:21PM PDT on Apr 2, 2010

Very concerning - thanks for the link.

9:49PM PDT on Mar 31, 2010

Kay O. has got the right idea. We can all do our part by purchasing less one-time-use products, recycling the ones we do buy and/or see, picking up trash in the streets before it hits the beaches, and setting a good example for others to follow.

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