Physical oceanographers, such as Kara Lavender Law and Curtis Ebbesmeyer, have attempted to demystify popular conceptions, such as the notion of the so-called garbage patches as Texas- or Alaska-sized rafts stretching from Hawaii to the Philippines. Amateur journalists such as Charles Moore and Donovan Hohn, writing for non-specialists, have described the specificity and scale of ocean plastics in descriptions of sea voyages through the garbage patches. Images of garbage-strewn beaches on islands where humans rarely set foot remind of the unintended costs and consequences of our prosperity. The arts and the humanities have much to contribute to the natural sciences in assessing the significance of ocean plastics, for to make the vastness and complexity of the phenomenon meaningful on a human scale they must enter our cultural narrative in compelling forms. The most productive waters, then, are those adjacent to the majority of humans.