Skip to content


Where Plastic Went

Where Plastic Went

June 4, 2017

Surface currents flow clockwise in the North Atlantic Ocean, forming the circular pattern called the North Atlantic subtropical gyre (black contour line). In 2010, scientist Kara Lavender Law of the Sea Education Association and WHOI scientist Chris Reddy published the results of study of floating plastic debris in the western North Atlantic. It was based on 22 years of sampling done by SEA students who used nets to collect plastic particles in the ocean as the students sailed in the North Atlantic. Water flows faster outside the line and more slowly inside, which causes most of the floating plastic to concentrate inside the gyre. (Image Courtesy of Chris Reddy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Image and Visual Licensing

WHOI copyright digital assets (stills and video) contained on this website can be licensed for non-commercial use upon request and approval. Please contact WHOI Digital Assets at or (508) 289-2647.