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The Malaspina Expedition, led by the Spanish National Research Council, has demonstrated that there are five large accumulations of plastic debris in the open ocean that match with the five major twists of oceanic surface water circulation. In addition to the known accumulation of plastic waste in the North Pacific, there are similar accumulations in the central North Atlantic, the South Pacific, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.
However, central surface waters of the oceans may not be the final destination of plastic debris since, as indicated by the study performed by the Malaspina Expedition, large amounts of microplastics could be passing to the marine food chain and the ocean floor. Results of the study, led by the University of Cadiz (Spain), have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Andrés Cózar, researcher from the University of Cadiz, explains: “Ocean currents carry plastic objects which split into smaller and smaller fragments due to solar radiation.