The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a body of marine debris and broken down plastic particles concentrated in the centre of the North Pacific Gyre. Also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex, it spans from the West Coast of North America to Japan and is a collection of the Western Garbage Patch closer to Japan and the Eastern Garbage Patch closer to America. Research shows that about 80% of this debris is land-based, 65% of which, is plastic that hasn’t been disposed of properly. Carelessly discarded plastics and other garbages makes its way into the ocean by wind, streams or rivers. Another contributor to this disaster is cargo and passenger ships. Ships lose cargo due to storms and it makes its way into the gyre. The ocean’s currents traps the debris in the center of the gyre, creating what could be perceived as an island of disposable plastic and other types of debris. Its estimated size is said to be twice that of Texas. It has been in existence for over fifty years and in that time, over one million pounds of garbage has been accumulated.
Not only is it an unpleasant sight, marine debris is harmful to marine life. Loggerhead turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellies and can choke on it. Albatrosses mistake plastic resin pellets for eggs and feeds it to their young ones. This causes the birds to die of starvation and/or disruptured organs. The garbage blocks out sunlight from the ocean’s autotrophs that depend on it for food. This then changes the food web and as a result, seafood populations slowly deplete and as seafood becomes scarce, it also becomes expensive. In an effort to clean the mess we’ve made and rid the ocean of this disease, eliminating or limiting our use of disposable plastic and switching to biodegradable resources would be a fantastic start. Throwing away our garbage in the appropriate bins is also another way to help. Recycle and Reuse while there is still have time to choose if we win or lose.