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The Junk Floating Off Our Coast

Bonnie Monteleone and Jennifer O'Keefe on their voyage searching for plastic floating in the Atlantic.

By Catherine M. Welch


Wilmington, NC – Bonnie Monteleone is on staff at UNCW's chemistry department, and is also a student at the university. And she was inspired by an article about plastic collecting into large masses that are just floating out into the middle of the ocean.

Many times these plastic islands are found in the center of what's called a gyre - a vortex of ocean currents trapping garbage inside its calm center.

The Gyre off California has trapped what's called the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." But Monteleone wanted to know what was happening off our coast. Joined by New Hanover County's Director of Keep America Beautiful, Jennifer O'Keefe, the two boarded a research vessel last month and headed 700 miles straight off the coast to see if they could track down plastic debris.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@whqr.org.