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Expert: A Sea of Plastic Destroying Oceans

November 14, 2011

HARTFORD, Conn. - We live in a sea of plastic these days: plastic bags from the grocery store, water bottles, and packaging and junk of all kinds. There's a real sea of plastic, too: five huge, Texas-sized garbage patches of discarded plastic in the world's oceans.

Captain Charles Moore is credited with discovering one of the massive areas of floating waste. He says the majority of the trash originates as plastic bags and wrappings and, while they can't pinpoint exactly where 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. "

Not only is the plastic mess that takes up an estimated 40 percent of the world's oceans unsightly, but Moore says sea creatures are eating the shards of plastic, and in turn, humans are eating those fish.

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.

He says there's not much that can be done about what's already there.

"You're not going to be able to economically retrieve the stuff out of the ocean. In general, our trash needs to be kept on land. We're not going to get it out of the ocean."

Moore says the one thing everybody can do is at least take a single first step.

"Bring your own cup to the coffee bar, bring your own bag to the store. Do as much as you can to create the awareness amongst those people you deal with that there's a problem here."

Captain Moore created the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in 1994 and is on a tour promoting his just-published book about his discovery of the "plastic ocean" and how it has led him to go from environmentalist to activist.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - CT