Penboscot Bay Press Compass Logo

Penobscot Bay Press
Community Information Services

News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in Compass, October 11, 2012
MERI presents Plastic at Sea: Science on a Tall Ship

Kara Lavender Law

Kara Lavender Law.

Photo courtesy of Anne Berleant

Ten percent of the planet’s plastic debris ends up in the oceans, but according to Dr. Kara Lavender Law there are many truths and also many misconceptions about this rising source of ocean pollution, according to a news release from the Marine Environmental Research Institute.

At the October lecture in the MERI Ocean Environment Lecture Series, Dr. Kara Lavender Law will address the problem of plastic debris in the oceans and what we know and don’t know about this increasingly troubling source of pollution.

Her talk, titled “ Plastic At Sea: Science On A Tall Ship,” is free and open to the public at the MERI Center, 55 Main Street in Blue Hill on Thursday, October 18, beginning at 6:45 p.m. with a reception for the speaker at 5 p.m.

Dr. Law is principal investigator for the Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, Mass. Much of her time has been spent aboard SSV Robert C. Seamans, a 134-foot brigantine-rigged sailing oceanographic research vessel, collecting and analyzing plastic detritus from the surface of the ocean. SEA has been studying fields of plastic debris in the North Atlantic since the 1970s and the North Pacific “garbage patch” for the past eight years.

A Ph.D. oceanographer, Law is interested in how physics determines the distribution of plastics and other marine debris, and the ultimate fate of plastic in the harsh ocean environment. A 2010 expedition revealed a region of extensive plastic pollution in a narrow latitude band from Bermuda to the center of the North Atlantic Ocean, including the highest plastic concentration ever recorded—26 million pieces per square kilometer.