Updated: Mar 3
What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of floating plastic rubbish halfway between Hawaii and California, has grown to almost 600,000 square miles. That's twice the size of Texas. The rubbish is funneled into a central place by winds and converging ocean currents according to author Laurent Lebreton of the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a non-profit group that spearheaded the research.
The rubbish in the region was discovered in the early 1990s and comes from all across the Pacific Rim, including Asia, and North and South America, according to Lebreton.
The patch is made up of around 1.8 trillion bits and weighs 88,000 tons, which is the weight of 500 jumbo jets. The latest values are up to 16 times higher than prior projections.
According to a research study published in 2018, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comprised at least 79,000 metric tons of plastic, including fishing nets, plastic bottles, and micro-plastic particles. Trash from the disaster in Japan has also accumulated in the patch.
A surprise on the great pacific garbage patch!
Coastal marine species carried out to sea on trash are not only surviving, but also colonizing the high seas and establishing new colonies on the floating plastic garbage that makes up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Coastal plants and animals are surviving and even reproducing in the patch.
According to Greg Ruiz, a senior scientist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and one of the report's authors, scientists have discovered more than 40 coastal species adhering to plastic waste, including mussels, barnacles, and shrimp-like amphipods.
Researchers were astounded to discover that plastic garbage is now allowing plants and animals to settle in the middle of nowhere, and that the open ocean provides enough food for them to survive.