A “floating” island of trash called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) now stretches 600,000 square kilometers.
(AP Photo/NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center)
The Pacific Ocean is treated as a giant dumpster — and it’s starting to seem. A “floating” island of trash called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) now stretches 600,000 square miles, according to a study published Thursday in the Scientific Reports.
It is more than twice the size of Texas (three times the size of France), and it’s growing every day.
The environmentalists expressed concern in October 2016 after a team of researchers from The Ocean Cleanup Foundation examined the vortex of trash accumulating between California and Hawaii, the spot from pieces of plastic glued together measure more than a meter.
“[It’s a] ticking time bomb because the big things will collapse to micro-plastics in the coming decades if we don’t act,” Boyan Slat, founder of Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organization that helps in the removal of the pollution of the oceans, told Newser at the moment.
The size of the amount of waste has almost doubled in size since then, with at least 79,000 tonnes of plastic — “a figure of four to sixteen times higher than previously reported,” Scientific Reports said.
In a nutshell, here are the new songs from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. More information can be found on https://t.co/eWQgxo4ZLP pic.twitter.com/x579FmnIje
— The Ocean Cleanup (@TheOceanCleanup) March 22, 2018
The researchers collected 1.2 million samples during a multi-vessel expedition in October 2017, exactly one year after their previous test.
They used large nets to scoop out the debris, and he took a number of aerial photos to examine the size of the GPGP.
Large objects, such as bottles, ropes, plastic bags, and buoys were the most common objects spotted in the stack. Fishing nets had an overwhelming presence, accounting for almost half of the weight of the debris collected by research ships.
Microscopic particles made up less than 10 percent of the mass collected by researchers.
“We were surprised by the amount of large plastic objects that we encountered,” Dr. Julia Reisser, the chief scientist of the expedition, said in a statement online. “We think that most of the debris consists of small particles, but this new analysis casts a new light on the scope of the debris.”
The data from the nets proved to be more plastic in the ocean than is cleared up. But scientists did not know how quickly the waste was piling up.
“The historical data of the surface net tows indicate that plastic pollution is increasing exponentially in the GPGP, and at a faster rate than in the surrounding waters,” the report said.
The findings were “depressing to see,” Laurent Lebreton, an oceanographer and lead author of the study, told The Guardian.
“There are things that you just wondered how they made it in the ocean,” Lebreton said, adding that the group even a toilet seat that is in the sea. “Clearly, there is a growing influx of plastic in the garbage patch.”
Pollution is a problem for the environment and humans, but it is especially troubling for the marine life.
“Floating plastic debris can be ingested or entangle marine life, and introduce invasive organisms in the oceanic basins,” Matthew Cole, a scientist with the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the united kingdom, told the New Scientist.
Lebreton hopes to find a way to curb plastic waste.
“We need a coordinated international effort to redesign the way we use plastics,” he said. “The numbers speak for themselves. It’s getting worse and we must act now.”