Did you know that there is a massive amount of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean, and it is three times bigger than the country of France? The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is actually the compilation of two garbage heaps, the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches. The Western garbage heap has formed east of Japan and west of Hawaii. The Eastern mass of garbage floats between Hawaii and California, and is estimated to be two times bigger than Texas. This garbage, millions of tons of it, slowly moves in a clockwise motion, continually collecting more and more trash from all over the world. Most of the patch consists of an estimated 1.8 million pieces of plastic which has proven harmful to marine life, fish and the tourism industry. About ten percent of the 200 billion pounds of plastic produced worldwide ends up in the ocean, and seventy percent of that plastic sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor causing harm to aquatic life. Since plastic is not biodegradable, it breaks down into tinier and tinier pieces which ultimately cannot be seen with the naked eye. These tiny particles of plastic are known as “microplastics”.
However, there is a plan underway to clean this up. Dutch scientists have designed a 2,000 ft. floating device that captures trash from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This free-floating boom has even been successful in collecting plastic and other debris from the ocean. Boyan Slat is credited with creating this Ocean Cleanup project. Slat wrote, “Our ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny microplastics…!” This plastic is brought to shore for recycling because Slat believes there will be a high demand for reclaimed plastic from the ocean. The cleanup device contains transmitters that can communicate its position to waiting vessels that will collect the gathered trash every few months. Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 metric tons of fishing gear is lost in the ocean each year, and another 8 metric tons of plastic floats out to sea from our beaches. Slat and his team are optimistic that they will be able to clean up at least half of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
At any rate, let’s do our part to keep our oceans beautiful and clean by disposing of plastic bottles and other debris in a safe and sensible manner. In that way, we can enjoy pristine beaches and clear, clean water, not only for ourselves, but for posterity.
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