Underreported: The North Atlantic Garbage Patch

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On today's second Underreported segment, Kara Lavender Law and Giora Proskurowski, both oceanographers at the Sea Education Association (SEA), discusses the North Atlantic garbage patch, where plastic bags and bottles form a floating, swirling mass in the ocean. They’ll talk about the 22 years of research on the garbage patch, and new research that shows it hasn’t been growing.


Kara Lavender Law and Giora Proskurowski

Comments [5]

Nancy Rutigliano from Nyack, NY

In 1989 I formed a chapter of Kids Against Pollution in Provincetown, MA. We conducted Marine Debris Surveys at The Cape Cod Nat'l Seashore. The rangers had invited my chapter to participate in their bi-annual survey on a Truro Beach. That was 21 years ago. We counted and documented every piece of human generated waste on a small strip of beach. The kids weighed the total before discarding into the trash. The numbers were sent to the office of Coastal Zone Mgmt in DC. In 1989 the styrofoam was there, but in large visible pieces. We found the same during the 1990s on the annual marine debris surveys performeded on the beaches of Rockport and Gloucester, Massachusetts with Cape Ann Kids Against Pollution.

This past winter I spent a lot of time on the beaches of Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton, NY. I found a lot of plastic and countless pieces of styrofoam. It was different this time. I picked up large and small pieces of styrofoam as well as thousands of foam pellets. Every step taken on the beach and every tire track in the sand turned up white, blue and yellow polystyrene pellets. The locals saw me and asked what I had found. I think they were expecting sea shells or beach glass. When I answered 320 pieces of styrofoam, they looked at me like I was odd. When I explained my role in the past with Kids Against Pollution I got extremely positive reactions and even some help. The task was endless. I came to the sad conclusion that these pellets were now a permanent part of the beach.

Aug. 26 2010 02:13 PM
jj from ny

a millimeter is pretty small how do you see it

Aug. 26 2010 01:53 PM
zoe from ny

What are the characteristics of the ocean floor that gather junk in certain places and what can we do

Aug. 26 2010 01:52 PM
Amy from Manhattan

So we see the plastic waste because it floats. But what's the effect of the stuff that sinks?

Aug. 26 2010 01:51 PM
vernon from ny

Your guest says plastic floats. So what physical factors are keeping ANY plastic at a depth of 50 feet?

Aug. 26 2010 01:51 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.