Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific garbage patch also described as the Pacific trash vortex is a gyre of marine debris particles in the central North Pacific Ocean discovered between 1985 and 1988. It is located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N to 42°N. The patch extends over an indeterminate area of widely varying range depending on the degree of plastic concentration used to define the affected area.

Researchers based in the Netherlands used a fleet of boats and aircraft to scan the immense accumulation of bottles, containers, fishing nets and micro particles along the Great Pacific Garbage Patch(GPGP) and found an astonishing build-up of plastic waste.

The findings of the study

  • The vast dump of plastic waste swirling in the Pacific Ocean is now bigger than France, Germany and Spain combined which is far larger than previously feared and is growing rapidly.
  • About 80,000 tones of buoyant plastic are currently in the GPGP. That’s around the weight of 500 jumbo jets, and up to sixteen times greater than the plastic mass uncovered there in previous studies.
  • Huge concentration of plastic pieces on the marine gyre between Hawaii and California.
  • The dump now contains around 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, posing a dual threat to marine life.
  • Microplastics, tiny fragments of plastic smaller than 50mm in size that make up the vast majority of items in the GPGP, can enter the food chain when swallowed by fish.

These findings show the deteriorating condition of the marine ecosystem in the Pacific Ocean. [The Hindu]

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