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Expert: Massive Garbage Patches of Plastic Destroying Oceans

November 11, 2011

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Plastic is everywhere today; plastic bags from the grocery store, clothing store, pharmacy; plastic bottles for water; and now, there are five huge Texas-sized garbage patches in the world's oceans, consisting mostly of discarded plastic. Captain Charles Moore is credited with discovering one of the massive garbage patches. He says the majority of the trash is plastic bags and wrappings and, while they can't pinpoint exactly where in the world most of it is coming from, it is an enormous problem.

"It's got to the point where this global throw-away lifestyle has had an effect on the world ocean and it's turned it into what I call a plastic soup. Now we're up against a lot of problems associated with that, not intended but unintended consequences of living in the plastic age."

Moore says the garbage patches are located in the North and South Atlantic, North and South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, and there's lots of garbage floating in areas in between. Not only is it unsightly, but Moore says sea creatures are eating the shards of plastic, and in turn, humans are eating those fish.

Moore will be at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach on Sunday, Nov. 13, to discuss the impact of plastic debris and his new book, "Plastic Ocean."

Tanner Council with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation says the majority of the trash his group finds every year during the annual "Clean the Bay Day" is plastic; plastic bags, bottles and six-pack rings.

He says one thing Virginians can do to help is to reduce and reuse plastic.

"By using a reusable bag, or reusable grocery bags are a big help. In a lot of cases if you go to the convenience store and you're just getting something small and they offer you a plastic bag, just say no, conserve it. A reusable water bottle; it doesn't create any trash, it's yours, you can actually carry more water in it."

Captain Moore says that while there are no easy solutions to cleaning the world's oceans, one thing we can do is become aware of the problem, and work to reduce the plastic that we throw away.

Captain Moore will be at the Virginia Aquarium at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, November 13, 717 General Booth Blvd., Virginia Beach.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA