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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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Jemima North

on 23 July 2014

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Transcript of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a large collection of marine debris (rubbish) covering part of the Pacific Ocean. The marine debris includes a range of items from glass bottles to aliminium, but that only accounts for 10% of the trash. The other 90% is made from plastics.
What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch??
Where is it found?
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located in the North Pacific Gyre in the Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and California, North East of Australia
How big is it?
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch covers approximately 14 million square kilometers of ocean. - That's twice the size of Texas and around 2.7% of the Earth's surface area!
How did it form?
When trash floats across the Pacific, it eventually passes through into the North Pacifc Gyre. In the North Pacific Gyre any trash collected is trapped inside.This is due to the gyre's formation of currents. For the past 100 years this has been happening, which is why the pile is currently so huge.
The problem with plastic being the main factor of the garbage patch is that plastic never really breaks down. It just breaks into smaller and smaller particles called microplastics, which eventually are eaten by fish or other marine life.
80% of the trash in the Pacific Garbage Patch is collected from neighbouring shores, while only 20% is from passing ships and boats.
Rubbish coming from the coast of North America takes an average of six years to reach the patch, while rubbish coming from the coast of Asia takes only one.
Microplastics cannot always be seen by the naked eye. Often they are far too small and float kilometres below the surface.
When was it discovered?
The patch was discovered just 17 years ago by race boat captain Charles Moore, who was sailing from Hawaii to California when he noticed millions of bits of plastic around the North Pacific Gyre.
The Patch was predicted by oceanographers and climatologists years before it was actually found.
Marine life around the patch
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch poses a major threat to marine life in and around the gyre. Many animals mistake plastic as food, so they eat it and it never breaks down, clogging their system and leading to a very painful death.
Marine animals also get the plastic rings off plastic bottles stuck around themselves, stunting them in areas when they grow.
Marine debris also blocks sunlight from entering the water, stopping the growth of algae and plankon, a major source of food for marine animals.
Why don't we just clean it up?
Cleaning up the patch is an extremely difficult process, and at the moment no nation has the money or the time to consider arranging its disposal. Many theories have been discussed to clean up the patch, but unfortunately none of them have been successful. The reason behind this is due to the patch's size. It stretches out thousands of kilometres, and the garbage isn't just at the top. Much of the garbage is on the ocean floor.
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