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Monterey Institute alumna Anna Cummins (MAIEP ’02) has made it her passion to educate and inform the public about the dangers facing our oceans. In recent months, Anna and her husband Dr. Marcus Eriksen collected samples from a more than one-hundred mile stretch in an area in the Atlantic bounded by ocean currents called the Sargasso Sea.

Their research uncovered the first confirmation of the existence of a plastic garbage patch in the Atlantic, corresponding to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch discovered in 1997. The plastics have entangled birds and turned up in the bellies of fish. It is estimated that the death of up to 100.000 marines animals per year could be linked to trash-related causes.

“Our job now is to let people know that plastic ocean pollution is a global problem — it unfortunately is not confined to a single patch,” Cummins said in an interview with the Associated Press. The discovery made by Anna and her husband made headlines across the globe.

Anna Cummins works with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach which was among the sponsors for the February voyage from Bermuda to the Azores Islands. You can follow her work on the Ship-2-Shore Education Blog.

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir