WOODS HOLE, Mass., Aug. 19 (UPI) — A giant floating patch of plastic debris has been identified in the North Atlantic, and U.S. marine biologists studying the phenomenon say it has them worried.
The extent of the affected area rivals the “great Pacific garbage patch” in the world’s other great ocean, which generated an outcry over the effects of plastic waste on marine wildlife, Britain’s The Independent reported Thursday.
The plastic waste, discovered east of Bermuda, is made up mostly of fragments less than a few millimeters wide, but its concentration and location has biologists concerned about its effect on marine life.
Most of the plastic appears to be small bits of polyethylene or polypropylene, which are less dense than seawater and float near to the surface.
Small fragments of plastic may pose a greater menace to marine life than larger fragments that become entangled with animals such as albatrosses and turtles, one researcher said.
“We know that smaller pieces of plastic are eaten and it’s unclear what happens to that plastic then,” Kara Lavender Law from the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, said. “But clearly biological organisms were not designed to eat plastic.”
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