Plastic by the Numbers in the Atlantic Ocean

In late 2014, Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation partnered with the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, a fleet of sailboats that makes an annual crossing of the Atlantic. In total, 93 of the 251 boats gathered water samples for our Global Microplastics Initiative, contributing 521 samples to ASC’s dataset and covering an estimated 602,000-square-nautical-mile area.


The following graphic helps tell the story.

The sources of microplastics pollution include microbeads manufactured for many face washes and toothpastes, particles weathered from larger debris like bottles and bags, and microfibers shed down the drain when synthetic clothing is washed.

In addition to the ARC sailors, volunteer sea kayakers, surfers, rowers divers and hikers have collected samples from places including Scandinavia, the Antarctic Peninsula, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, and West Africa. They have contributed more than 1,200 samples to the ASC dataset, which is likely the largest of its kind.

Once we have enough data, we plan to use this information to leverage change, working with legislative, corporate and public partners to stop the influx of microplastics.

Learn more about ASC on our website, the Field Notes blog, and by following us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Google+


  1. Judith Kent
    November 21, 2015, 1:42 am

    Shame on us.