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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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May 2023    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 49, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A New Dive Site? It's Garbage!

from the May, 2023 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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In the '80s, the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia was considered nothing more than a place for the residents of nearby Bitung to dump garbage. But guide Larry Smith started muck diving at Kungkungan Bay, and the rest is history.

The 80,000-ton floating reef of plastic and trash, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is an environmental disaster. Twice the size of Texas and floating between California and Hawii, it is also teeming with life.

Researchers from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center have discovered 484 marine invertebrates from 46 species clinging to the detritus. They also fished out toothbrushes, rope, and bottle shards studded with gooseneck barnacles and jet-black sea anemones glistening like buttons. Anemones protect themselves with grains of sand, but in the garbage patch, they were covered in seed-like microplastics. Many other hitchhikers were coastal species that had discovered a way to thrive in the wide-open Pacific....

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