Sea•thospedia:What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Nov 01 2011

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a massive collection of  floating plastic that has accumulated in the northern Pacific gyre. A gyre is a naturally occuring system of rotating currents and there are five gyres in the ocean. The rotation of the gyres attract plastic garbage that has entered into the ocean through human activity such as pollution from urban runoff. All five of the gyres contain concentrations of plastic debris, but the north Pacific gyre has the most intense amount and is therefore known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The northern Pacific gyre is located between San Francisco and Hawaii and is made up of  four ocean currents: the North Pacific Current from the north, the California Current from the east, the North Equatorial Current from the south, and the Kuroshio Current from the west.  The size of the gyre reaches over most of the northern Pacific ocean and has been described as being twice the size of the state of Texas.  The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a huge problem, not only because our ocean has become a massive trash can, but also because marine life including sea birds digest the plastic debris and eventually platic-contaminated seafood becomes a part of our own diet.  Here is a video that helps illustrate the magnitude of the plastic debris gyre

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