Ocean garbage frustrates search for Flight 370


Associated Press

Posted on March 31, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 31 at 2:30 PM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — 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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APPHOTO TOK111: FILE - In this file imagery taken by the Thaichote satellite on March 24, 2014 and released March 27, 2014 by Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), a part of about 300 objects floating in the Indian Ocean near the search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner are shown. Anticipation has repeatedly turned into frustration in the search for signs of Flight 370 as some of the objects spotted from planes in a new search area west of Australia have turned out to be nothing more than garbage. (AP Photo/Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, File) (27 Mar 2014)

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APPHOTO TOK801: FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2011 file photo, police officers monitor debris washed ashore on the Mount Maunganui Beach as a shipping container fallen from the grounded container ship Rena sits in the breakwater near Tauranga, New Zealand. Not only is the trash a time-wasting distraction for air and sea crews searching for debris from the Malaysia Airlines flight that vanished March 8, it also points to wider problems in the world's oceans. The ocean is like a plastic soup, bulked up with the croutons of these larger items," said Los Angeles captain Charles Moore, an environmental advocate credited with bringing attention to an ocean gyre between Hawaii and California known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell) AUSTRALIA OUT, NEW ZEALAND OUT (13 Oct 2011)

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