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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

700,000km Wad of Trash Floating in the Pacific Ocean

This shouldn't be too surprising, but the lack of surprise doesn't make up for the lameness of its existence. Yep, it's a giant floating wad of refuse the various Pacific ocean currents have picked up and gathered toward the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Wikipedia entry for the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" explains that "The patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of suspended plastic and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre."

It goes on: "It has been estimated that 80% of the garbage comes from land-based sources, and 20% from ships at sea. Pollutants range in size from abandoned fishing nets to micro-pellets used in abrasive cleaners. Currents carry debris from the west coast of North America to the gyre in about five years, and debris from the east coast of Asia in a year or less. An international project led by Dr. Hideshige Takada of Tokyo University studying plastic pellets, or nurdles, from beaches around the world may provide further clues about the origins of pelagic plastic, including that of the Pacific garbage patch."

OH and here's what Wikipedia says the wad does to wildlife: "Many of these long-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals, including sea turtles, and the Black-footed Albatross. Besides the particles' danger to wildlife, the floating debris can absorb organic pollutants from seawater, including PCBs, DDT, and PAHs. Aside from toxic effects, when ingested, some of these are mistaken by the endocrine system as estradiol, causing hormone disruption in the affected animal. Marine plastics also facilitate the spread of invasive species that attach to floating plastic in one region and drift long distances to colonize other ecosystems."

The Wikipedia article also mentions that the debris field is: "estimated to be twice the size of Texas."

Isn't that great? It's a giant floating garbage pile bigger than the biggest state in the union (assuming two-Texases > Alaska). I'm pretty sure there isn't a person alive who wouldn't find this fact pretty disappointing. Luckily, there are a few people looking into whether or not it can be cleaned up, but the fact that this has happened at all is pretty sad.

Thanks be to @Blogdrop who posted about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch" on his Posterous blog, You should go subscribe to it--it's got a lot of great stuff--art, politics, current events, environmental stuff, too.


  1. I notice there are no pictures of this garbage mass on Wikipedia. For something "estimated to be twice the size of Texas", that's quite an impressive feat.
    .-= Tim´s last blog ..“Ghost from Hell” on Assignment: Unexplained! =-.

  2. We, as a species, have nearly completely destroyed the planet. 6.8 billion people have destroyed the planets balance leaving a massive dead zone so large it can be seen from space. It is sickening. Our mantra as a people is me, me, me, me, me ad-nausea. We will pay a heavy price for this reckless behavior. We may very well be the next species which grows extinct? We have already crossed the proverbial tipping point. We simply can not face the hard facts. I am so glad that I did not have children. I would hate to have them see what is going to happen in the future. It is scary. There is no one else to blame other than ourselves. May God have mercy on our souls.