New garbage patch discovered in Indian Ocean
Scientists previously mapped huge floating trash patches in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, but now a husband-wife team researching plastic garbage in the Indian Ocean suggest a new and dire view. “The world’s oceans are covered with a thin plastic soup,” says Anna Cummins, cofounder of 5 Gyres Institute.
Cummins and her husband, Marcus Eriksen, established the 5 Gyres Institute to research plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. The team works in collaboration with Algalita Marine Research Foundation and Pangaea Explorations, two nonprofit scientific organizations devoted to marine preservation. They report that all of the 12 water samples collected in the 3,000 miles between Perth, Australia, and Port Louis, Mauritius (an island due East of Madagascar), contain plastic.
Their findings support earlier research about trash washed onto beaches in and around the Indian Ocean, and it’s already been well established that there’s an enormous amount of plastic trash swirling in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Ocean Gyres.
Gyres are powerful rotating currents in the world’s major oceans. The five large subtropical gyres are located in the North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Indian oceans. Once plastic makes its way into the ocean (through sewers, streams, rivers, or from the coast), it is ultimately swept up and trapped in these gyres and forms a swirling soup of garbage.
“There is no island of trash,” says Anna Cummins, cofounder of 5 Gyres Institute. “It’s a myth.” Instead, she says the garbage patches resemble plastic soup or confetti. “We now have a third accumulation zone of plastic pollution that shows compounding evidence that the trash isn’t condensed to an island,” she says. “It’s spread out across the entire gyre from coast to coast.”
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