Garbage certainly pollutes the ocean in many ways.
This has been a problem along the sea coasts of the United States for many
years. It used to be that cities like New York routinely used barges to
dump garbage at sea. That practice has been stopped by most cities now.
However, ships still routinely dump their garbage at sea and airplanes
sometimes dump their lavatories over the oceans. Some of the problems with
garbage in the ocean are that it can simply cover sea life at the bottom of
the sea and smother it, it can be ingested by sea life (fish, etc.) and harm
them, it can contain poisons and toxins which can kill or hurt sea life, and
it can contain heavy metals which can accumulate in the sea bottom.
Although these affects may not be as dramatic in the sea as they have been
in the much shallower great lakes, they can be cumulative over time. An
oceanographer may be able to supply you with details from some studies that
have been done. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute may be able to help you.
There is a man there named Bob Nelson who you could contact - he could
probably point you in the right direction. Bob was a class below me in my
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Update: June 2012