Vast Garbage Float in the Pacific Ocean

Posted on November 5, 2007  Comments (5)

Feds want to survey, possibly clean up vast garbage pit in Pacific:

Charles Moore, the marine researcher at the Algalita Marina Research Foundation in Long Beach who has been studying and publicizing the patch for the past 10 years, said the debris – which he estimates weighs 3 million tons and covers an area twice the size of Texas – is made up mostly of fine plastic chips and is impossible to skim out of the ocean. “Any attempt to remove that much plastic from the oceans – it boggles the mind,” Moore said from Hawaii, where his crew is docked. “There’s just too much, and the ocean is just too big.”

The trash collects in one area, known as the North Pacific Gyre, due to a clockwise trade wind that circulates along the Pacific Rim. It accumulates the same way bubbles gather at the center of hot tub, Moore said. A two-liter plastic bottle that begins its voyage from a storm drain in San Francisco will get pulled into the gyre and take weeks to reach its place among the other debris in the Garbage Patch. While the bottle floats along, instead of biodegrading, it will “photodegrade,” Moore said – the sun’s UV rays will turn the bottle brittle, much like they would crack the vinyl on a car roof. They will break down the bottle into small pieces and, in some cases, into particles as fine as dust.

Related: The Sea CrisisFishy Future?South Pacific to Stop Bottom-trawling

5 Responses to “Vast Garbage Float in the Pacific Ocean”

  1. Rob
    November 6th, 2007 @ 7:18 am

    You know down here in Australia, its just amazing how much filth ends up on our beaches, sometimes rubbish with markings from overseas countries, when are people going to grow up…..

  2. Stefanie
    November 9th, 2007 @ 7:18 pm

    Twice the size of Texas, you say? Perhaps we could exile the litterbugs and make them live on their new island…

  3. CuriousCat » Dead Zones in the Ocean
    February 17th, 2008 @ 12:23 pm

    “the dead zone off the West Coast of North America has another cause: global warming. Here’s how it works: Winds cause the oceanic rivers of nutrients, such as the California Current in this case, to flow upwards from the deep, carrying nutrients and phyoplankton into the sunlight…”

  4. CuriousCat: Biodegradable Plastic Bags and Bottles
    April 18th, 2008 @ 6:59 pm

    Plastic bags can photodegrade where they break down into small bits of plastic that might be hard to see but are still toxic that can be eaten by animals, and us…

  5. Marc Graves
    January 26th, 2009 @ 12:22 am

    Unfortunately the Pacific is not the only “garbage pit”. I was in Belize on the island of Ambergris Caye and was stunned by the amount of trash that washed up on the beach on a daily basis. Plastics made up a very large percentage of the refuse. People just don’t seem to care that we are polluting our natural resources?

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