Pequod/plastics, by Eliot Weinberger

It is likely the Pequod went down in, or on the fringes of, the North Pacific Gyre, a vast stretch of ocean created by the California Current running south, the North Equatorial Current running west and then north, and the Kuroshio Current running north and then east. The Gyre is one of the dead places on the planet, on the same latitude with the Sahara and Gobi deserts, and the equally lifeless Sargasso Sea. Commercial fishermen don’t bother to go; merchant ships rarely cross it, for it is on the route to nowhere. The Gyre is filled with garbage that has drifted from Japan and the west coast of the United States. A scientific expedition trawled for a few days and pulled in a ton of debris: plastic hangers, drums of chemical waste, tires, television sets, basketballs. There are bright-colored plastic pellets in the transparent jellyfish that proliferate there; six pounds of plastic for every pound of plankton. On the uninhabited nesting islands, the stomachs of decomposing albatrosses are a mass of bottle caps and bits of bleach bottles, action figures, plastic twine, styrofoam peanuts, shrink wrap, and the splinters of compact disc cases.

Weinberger, Eliot. An Elemental Thing, New Directions Books, New York, 2007: 128.

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