Plastic Garbage Patch Found in Atlantic

Covers thousands of square miles, endangers fish

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 15, 2010 6:50 AM CDT | Updated Apr 18, 2010 3:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – If you’re planning on taking a cruise, hopefully your ship won’t travel through the “great Atlantic garbage patch” that covers thousands of square miles between Bermuda and the Azores islands. The plastic debris is so small that some pieces are almost invisible, and the floating trash heap—pushed together by currents—is difficult to see from the surface, the AP reports…but it’s still enough to make you queasy.

The Pacific Ocean has its own garbage patch between Hawaii and California. Two groups of scientists discovered its Atlantic counterpart, which is harmful for fish who mistake the plastic for plankton and eat it. One researcher describes taking water samples that came up full of plastic, including a plastic bucket with a Trigger fish trapped inside. The worst part: There’s no feasible way to clean it up, so prevention may be the only option, researchers say.

In this Feb. 15, 2010 photo released by 5 Gyres, a coastal area of the Azores Islands in Portugal, is shown littered with plastic garbage.   (AP Photo/5 Gyres)
In this Feb. 3, 2010 photo released by 5 Gyres, researcher Marcus Eriksen, left, checks a plastic bucket with a trigger fish trapped inside after finding it floating in the Sargasso Sea, north Atlantic...   (AP Photo/Marjolijn Dijkman, 5 Gyres)
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