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Cleaning Up Ocean ‘Garbage Patches’ Could Destroy Delicate Ecosystems

Removing trash from the ocean may not be as harmless as it seems. That’s the conclusion of new research, which finds that marine dumps known as “garbage patches” are home to countless delicate creatures that could perish when people scoop debris from the sea.

The oceans are home to five major garbage patches. They form far from land where strong currents swirl together, ferrying trash of all sizes. Some of it has been eroded by the churn into tiny debris known as microplastics.

The largest of these marine debris fields is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Spanning 1.6 million square kilometers midway between Hawaii and the coast of California, it was first observed in 1997 by Charles Moore, an oceanographer and founder of Algalita Marine Research and Education. The patch escaped notice for so long because most of its contents aren’t easily spotted from afar.

Continue reading at science.org.

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