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Environment

September 15, 2019 - grist

What if the Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t the ocean’s biggest plastic problem?

What if the Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t the ocean’s biggest plastic problem?
Credit: Mote Marine Aquarium Exhibit

Humans unleash mountains of plastic into the sea each year, and that rate is only accelerating as plastic production grows around the world.

The confounding bit is that scientists know little about where all that plastic is ending up — in gyres like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, yes, but that’s just a fraction of the debris released into the ocean each year. When plastic debris end up in the ocean, they break into smaller microplastics, often invisible to the human eye, that swirl in the water column or sink to the bottom of the sea.

VA: Plastic bags can resemble jellyfish in the ocean and be mistaken for food.

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