In North Atlantic, researchers find a sea of garbage

Jun 13, 2010 by Anne Chaon
Photo illustration shows discarded plastic bottles in a trash can in Washington, DC. The North Atlantic Ocean is looking more like a rubbish bin, with plastic and polystyrene flotsom spreading far and wide, according to four French explorers just back from eight months at sea.

The North Atlantic Ocean is looking more like a rubbish bin, with plastic and polystyrene flotsom spreading far and wide, according to four French explorers just back from eight months at sea.

Once out of the Brittany port of Trinite-sur-Mer in October, they typically spotted at least four to five pieces of trash a day -- only to sail into a veritable floating dump in April in the Sargasso Sea around Bermuda.

"In 15 minutes we saw more garbage than at any time during our journey," recalled naval engineer Yann Geffriaud, 27, speaking from his yacht a few hours after the crew's return on Saturday.

"It was truly a shock, when in the middle of nowhere we came across 10 to 20 pieces of garbage every five minutes."

The Sargasso Sea, where currents between Florida and Bermuda converge, is named for a brown seaweed -- sargassum -- that proliferates on its surface, entrapping any floating trash.

"Ninety-five percent of the stuff is plastics, from toothpaste tubes to aerosol containers and water bottles," said Geffriaud, founder of Watch the Waste, a group that asks mariners to monitor trash on the high seas.

"Frankly speaking, we did not see a compact area of plastic, but a scattering," added Geffriaud, whose team included an anthropologist taking stock of the seabound residue of modern civilisation.

The findings echoed those of US seafarer and researcher Charles Moore who two years ago sailed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- some 100 million tonnes of trash sprawled between Hawaii and Japan.

Moore was part of the Atlantic project in spirit, providing a dinghy for its bluewater sloop. His Algalita group also co-sponsored the effort, along with France's independent rubbish monitoring centre CNIID and two NGOs.

Last February, the US-based Sea Education Association revealed the existence of another virtual island of plastic in the North Atlantic, spread over a surface area as big as France.

Outside the Sargasso Sea, Yann said, the French expedition regularly came across , much of which had been swept from dry land into the ocean by streams and rainfall.

"But we saw five times more on the way back, between Bermuda and the Azores, than on the way out along a more southerly track from Cape Verde to Tobago," he said.

Sailing closer to the Gulf Stream that sweeps from the Gulf of Mexico to northern Europe, its 10.5-metre yacht came across swirling waters along the edge of the main current that favoured an intermingling of rubbish.

"Given that we can never clean up the sea, the most simple thing to do is to raise public awareness," Yann and his team said.

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jerryd
5 / 5 (1) Jun 13, 2010
It is not between Fla and Bermuda but between Fla and Europe. Neither is it a convergence of currents but a region of little current or wind between the trade wind zones.

But plastic is a huge problem as can be seen on any beach that isn't cleaned regularly worldwide because they are full of trash that floated in. And from the writing on it they come from all parts of the world.
Caliban
Jun 13, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
PinkElephant
Jun 13, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
barakn
5 / 5 (5) Jun 13, 2010
Plastic - it's what's for dinner.

Put a little crude oil on it and it's a salad.
Quantum_Conundrum
3 / 5 (2) Jun 13, 2010
If there are any space aliens, then when they find us all extinct they shall conclude there was never intelligent life here.
otto1923
5 / 5 (4) Jun 13, 2010
100M tons... Like caliban said, a valuable resource, easier to reclaim than mining and sorting landfill plastic. Fleets of robotic trawlers, processers; let's convert whalers for publicity. The IDF navy is already using RC patrol boats and the US is building a crewless destroyer. We'll clean the oceans just like a robot carpet sweeper, and make some green money.
Scientifica
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 13, 2010
Soon, the entire Atlantic will be a black mass of crude oil...and renamed the Obama Ocean.
croghan27
5 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2010
Soon, the entire Atlantic will be a black mass of crude oil...and renamed the Obama Ocean.


Sea of Bush? After the guy that removed the laws that guarded against well blow offs.
rwinners
1 / 5 (1) Jun 21, 2010
Personally, I'm more worried about the stuff that disolves in water. I mean, trash just floats or sinks.
croghan27
5 / 5 (1) Jun 21, 2010
Hawking: Aliens ‘No Longer Interested’ in Invading Earth
Planet Already ‘Pre-destroyed,’ Scientist Says

LONDON – Reversing his recent position on the dangers of an extraterrestrial invasion, eminent theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said today that the planet is in no such peril anymore because aliens are “no longer interested” in invading Earth.

“Assuming that aliens have been monitoring Earth for the past month in preparation for an invasion, they’ve probably figured out it’s no longer worth the trip,” Dr. Hawking said.

Speaking at a conference of the International Society of Eminent Theoretical Physicists, Dr. Hawking added, “Most extraterrestrials would want to come to Earth to destroy it, and let’s face it, this planet has been pretty much pre-destroyed.”

Even if aliens planned to travel to Earth to warn humans against destroying their own planet, Dr. Hawking said, “If they showed up now and took a look around they’d be like, ‘Oops, too late.’”

The