The Living Climate Change Video Challenge - 18 and Over

Competition Details

Sea Any Plastic Bottles?

by J. Manuel Mansylla
Co-authors: Jimena Leiva-Roesch, Richard Gonzalez, Michael Shouten


From every river and stream along the whole Atlantic Coast, plastic bottles are hurrying to the sea. Reaching salt water, they will strike out to the Sargasso, there to mingle with other plastic hordes which have made the longer westward crossing from Europe. From Greenland, Labrador, the United States, Mexico and the West Indies; from Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium, France and the British Isles, plastic bottles drift into those mid- oceanic swirling bodies referred to as “trash patches”.

Five centuries after the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria crossed the dread sea of floating sargassum weed another explorer, Kara Lavendar Law, sailed over a spot in the Sargasso, south of Bermuda between 22 and 38 degrees north latitude, and declared it to be the final resting place of old bags, bottles, and other consumer products. Her team dragged nets half-in and half-out of the water to take a trash census. The researchers carried out 6,100 tows in areas of the Caribbean and the North Atlantic — off the coast of the U.S. More than half of these expeditions revealed floating pieces of plastic on the water surface.

After its brief period on land these waterborne translucent beings make the journey across 1,00 miles of strange, wild waters without benefit of chart or compass, finding the shores from which their predecessors once came.

By 2040 the North Atlantic ocean will have accumulated hundreds of million more tons of plastic. Most scientists think that the most ecological and anticipatory response is certainly not to wait until this is so; we need to change the way we relate to single-use plastics.