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Sea of plastics

Patches of tiny polymer fragments more common and deeper than previously recognized

4:01pm, February 25, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. — Recent studies show that the oceans may hold more “garbage patches” of fine plastic flotsam than scientists realized and that the fragments extend well below the sea surface.

Most of these items are the size of fingernail clippings or smaller. They are the wave-shattered remnants of items such as rubbish, abandoned fishing gear and floats from fishing nets and scientific instruments. These plastic bits are especially common in a region of the Pacific Ocean southwest of California that is sometimes called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

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