SARGASSO SEA, ATLANTIC OCEAN
PHASE 3: SARGASSO SEA, ATLANTIC OCEAN
Billions of plastic bags and bottles are consumed and discarded per year in the U.S. alone. As trash moves from our watersheds to the sea, it begins to break down into plastic particles that seabird species, turtles and fish species ultimately digest. Scientists are finding a drastic increase in toxic chemical levels in marine life which becomes more concentrated as it’s carried up the food chain.
The Ocean covers 71% of our planet, and yet, only 2% is protected. 50% of our oxygen comes from the ocean, yet there are already 405 reported dead zones in the oceans.
It has been estimated that OVER 14 BILLION POUNDS of trash created on land are dumped into the oceans each year, including plastics, sewage, oil and toxins.
10% of the world oil supply is used to make and transport disposable ‘single use’ plastics. In America alone, over 35 billion plastic bottles are discarded each year, many of which, end up in our oceans.
The non-biodegradable trash floats in the ocean until it becomes part of a gyre. The North Atlantic Trash Gyre, in the Sargasso Sea, is distinct for it’s dense mats of sargassum algae, which creates a nutrient rich habitat and unique ecosystem on the surface of the sea. As the plastic particles break into increasingly smaller particles, a large number of marine organisms consume the trash particles which can lead to internal blockage, dehydration, starvation, and potentially death. There are now 5 major plastic gyres across the globe.
70 Degrees West will create a visual assessment of pollution in the oceans, specifically, the North Atlantic Gyre in the Sargasso Sea. We will focus on the effects of pollution on the marine life that live in the sargassum and migrate through the Sargasso Sea – sea turtles, sargassum shrimp, flying fish, zooplankton jellyfish, sperm and humpback whales.