Ocean Garbage Frustrates Search for Flight 370

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

WELLINGTON, New Zealand Of all of the objects that have been seen floating in the southern Indian Ocean in recent days, not one has turned out to be connected to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

The object sometimes turns out to be a snarled fishing line, or a buoy, or something that might once have been the lid to an ice box.

All of the floating garbage has been a time-wasting distraction for the air and sea crews that are searching for debris from the flight, which vanished more than three weeks ago.

One environmental advocate says searchers are working in the eastern edge of a giant floating garbage patch. Charles Moore compares it to "a toilet bowl that swirls but doesn't flush." Most of the trash can't even be seen. It's composed of tiny bits of plastic bobbing just below the surface. Moore says the larger items also tend to be plastic, and are often fishing-related.

Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer says within the large collections of garbage in the world's oceans, there are smaller collections. He says they're like "dust bunnies," and that they each move about ten miles a day.

He says he's fascinated by the trash that comes from the hundreds of shipping containers that are lost overboard from cargo ships each year. One container, he says, spilled 2,000 computer monitors. Another released thousands of pairs of Nike sneakers. And then there's one that keeps belching out Lego pieces onto the beaches of Cornwall, England.

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