Looking at our oceans & trash vortexes

If you have wondered whether or not garbage patches, gyres, and trash vortexes exist in the oceans, read Ole Nielsen’s blog, OleLog.

North Pacific gyre source: OleLogNorth Pacific gyre source: OleLog

Nielsen reports: “Can you imagine what happens when marine garbage ends up in such a vortex? It will never leave it again, all plastic will circulate, new plastic come by and circulate. Ships continue dumping their garbage at sea, and you end up with the world’s biggest landfill in the Pacific Ocean.

“It has been given different names like the “Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches”, sometimes collectively called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, the “Pacific Trash Vortex”, or for short the “Plastic Vortex”. The garbage patches present numerous hazards to marine life, fishing and tourism. Plastic constitutes 90 percent of all trash floating in the world’s oceans. The Eastern Garbage Patch floats between Hawaii and California and is first and foremost a Pacific island of rubbish twice the size of Texas and created from six million tonnes of discarded plastic. In the peer review journal, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Charles Moore estimated the plastic mass in the Pacific Gyre to be six times that of plankton.

“In June (10 June to 25 July 2009) a high-seas mission departs from San Francisco to map and explore the Pacific Garbage Patch. Scientists and conservationists on the expedition will begin attempts to retrieve and recycle this ugly monument to throwaway living in the middle of the North Pacific. With a crew of 30, the expedition, supported by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Brita, the water company, will use unmanned aircraft and robotic surface explorers to map the extent and depth of the plastic continent while collecting 40 tonnes of the refuse for trial recycling.

“Bottle caps, plastic bags and polystyrene floating with tiny plastic chips, worn down by sunlight and waves, disintegrates into smaller pieces. Suspended under the surface, these tiny fragments are invisible to ships and satellites trying to map the plastic continent. The damage caused by these tiny fragments is more insidious than strangulation, entrapment and choking by larger plastic refuse. The fragments act as sponges for heavy metals and pollutants until mistaken for food by small fish. The toxins then become more concentrated as they move up the food chain through larger fish, birds and marine mammals.”

We hope posts such as the one above from Mr. Nielsen helps end such wasteful, polluting nonsense.

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