View Full Version : Great Pacific Garbage Patch

05-09-2012, 09:02 AM
Study: Plastic in 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' increases 100-foldhttp://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/120509-pacificgarbage1-2a.photoblog600.jpg Mario Aguilera / Scripps Institution of Oceanography
SEAPLEX researchers encounter a large ghost net with tangled rope, net, plastic, and various biological organisms during a 2009 expedition in the Pacific gyre. Matt Durham (seen wearing a blue shirt) is pictured with Miriam Goldstein.

By Ian Johnston, msnbc.com
The amount of plastic trash in the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" has increased 100-fold during the past 40 years, causing "profound" changes to the marine environment, according to a new study.
Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego found that insects called "sea skaters" or "water striders" were using the trash as a place to lay their eggs in greater numbers than before.

In a paper published by the journal Biology Letters (http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/04/26/rsbl.2012.0298), researchers said this would have implications for other animals, the sea skaters' predators -- which include crabs -- and their food, which is mainly plankton and fish eggs.

The scientists also pointed to a previous Scripps study that found nine percent of fish had plastic waste in their stomachs.
The "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" -- which is roughly the size of Texas (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5juHLn0944tb8mBjw70d-wdRAqEeQ?docId=CNG.bfa9aba1959412efbfa0a5e29b60329 3.91) -- was created by plastic waste that finds its way into the sea and is then swept into one area, the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, by circulating ocean currents known as a gyre.
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/120509-noaa-gyre-map-2a.photoblog600.jpg NOAA
This map shows the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone within the North Pacific Gyre.

The Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition, known as SEAPLEX, traveled about 1,000 miles west of California in August 2009.

A statement on Scripps' website (http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/Releases/?releaseID=1271) said the scientists had "documented an alarming amount of human-generated trash, mostly broken down bits of plastic the size of a fingernail floating across thousands of miles of open ocean."
Scripps graduate student Miriam Goldstein, SEAPLEX’s chief scientist, said that plastic had arrived in the ocean in such numbers in a "relatively short" period.
Dec. 29, 2007: NBC's Kerry Sanders reports on a huge mass of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean that is killing marine life and growing larger each day.

"Plastic only became widespread in late '40s and early '50s, but now everyone uses it and over a 40-year range we've seen a dramatic increase in ocean plastic," she said. "Historically we have not been very good at stopping plastic from getting into the ocean so hopefully in the future we can do better."
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/120509-pacificgarbage3-2a.photoblog600.jpg Jim Leichter / Scripps Institution of Oceanogra
Researchers found fish larvae growing on pieces of plastic, such as the one above.

Sea skaters -- relatives of pond water skaters -- normally lay their eggs on flotsam such as seashells, seabird feathers, tar lumps and pumice. The sharp rise in plastic waste had led to an increase in egg densities in the gyre area, the study found.
"We're seeing changes in this marine insect that can be directly attributed to the plastic," Goldstein said in a statement.
She told BBC News (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17991993) that the addition of "hundreds of millions of hard surfaces" to the Pacific was "quite a profound change."
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/120509-pacificgarbage2-2a.photoblog600.jpg Samples taken by the scientists showed how marine life, such as small velella pictured above, lives alongside pieces of plastic.

"In the North Pacific, for example, there's no floating seaweed like there is in the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic. And we know that the animals, the plants and the microbes that live on hard surfaces are different to the ones that live floating around in the water," she added.
A garbage patch has also been found in the Atlantic Ocean, (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/03/100302-new-ocean-trash-garbage-patch/) lying a few hundreds miles off the North American coast from Cuba to Virginia.

05-09-2012, 09:30 AM
What's the Geiger counter reads on that stuff? What king of super bugs are we going to get?

05-09-2012, 09:39 AM
I've been reading about this for a couple of years now. It's heartbreaking. And, it continues to grow.

05-09-2012, 09:50 AM
It is awful, no doubt, and I think the effects of the tsunami in Japan will make it even larger. Much of what was washed out to sea is now making its way across the Pacific.

05-09-2012, 02:27 PM
No need to hide this. :evil:

05-09-2012, 03:06 PM
If any fishing lures are in that mess, they belong to me.

05-09-2012, 03:23 PM
If any fishing lures are in that mess, they belong to me.

Setting out bait.....were ya? :wink: :grin:

05-09-2012, 03:34 PM
Setting out bait.....were ya? :wink: :grin:

I had my big gas guzzler boat out there taking all the fish I could hold. I sold 'em all for an amzing profit, so I bought a bigger boat. God Bless America.

07-26-2017, 02:33 AM
Another big ol' landfill floatin' inna ocean...
Scientists Found a Second Giant Garbage Patch in the Pacific
Jul 21, 2017 - As if one wasn't bad enough.

Somewhere in the North Pacific, there's a giant floating patch of garbage thousands of miles wide. It contains millions of tons of plastic and is estimated to take up an area the size of Alaska. We've known about it for around 30 years, and scientists have struggled to develop a method to clean it up. And now, a group of researchers has discovered another one. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch floating in the North Pacific is the result of ocean currents called gyres. These gyres are circling currents that can trap particles floating in them and push them into a single area. Essentially, all the trash thrown into the North Pacific is brought to a single area off the coast of North America.http://pop.h-cdn.co/assets/popularmechanics/20170722005834/images/blank.png

But the Pacific Ocean has another gyre in the Southern hemisphere, and it behaves the same way. Recently, scientists exploring a remote island in the South Pacific found almost 20 tons of plastic washed up on a beach, and they began to suspect that the South Pacific had a garbage patch of its own. A recent expedition to the area appears to confirm that this new garbage patch does exist. The researchers found an area about a million square miles in size, bigger than the state of Texas, containing over a million tons of plastic.

Most of this plastic is tiny, less than a millimeter in size. These "microplastics" are often worn down, broken apart, and eroded by ocean currents until they become microscopic in size. These microplastics can still kill large ocean animals, but they also pose a danger to smaller organisms too. This second garbage patch appears to be a relatively new phenomenon. An expedition to the area in 2011 picked up little trace of the patch, which means it's likely only formed in the past few years. With any luck, we can figure out how to get rid of it as quickly as we created it.


03-12-2018, 10:41 PM
Krill can breakdown microplastics in ocean garbage...
Researchers find krill can break down microplastics
Tue, Mar 13, 2018 - OCEANS OF GARBAGE: Digestion of plastic into much smaller fragments does not necessarily help ease pollution, Australian researchers said in a paper

A world-first study by Australian researchers has found that krill can digest certain forms of microplastic into smaller — but no less pervasive — fragments. The study, published in Nature Communications journal on Friday, found that Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, can break down 31.5 micron polyethylene balls into fragments less than 1 micron in diameter. The study was conducted in laboratory conditions with new plastics. The lead researcher, Amanda Dawson, who completed the study as part of her doctorate with Griffith University, said that it was likely that microplastics in the ocean would be even easier to digest because they had already been degraded by UV radiation. Within five days in a plastic-free environment, all plastics had left the krills’ systems, meaning that microplastics from krill would not accumulate in animals further up the food chain, such as whales.

Researchers pouring krill back into the ocean from the Australian Antarctic Division’s krill aquarium in Hobart, Tasmania.

The digested fragments were on average 78 percent smaller than the original fragments, with some up to 94 percent smaller. Unfortunately, Dawson said, krill were unlikely to provide a solution to the levels of plastics and microplastics polluting the oceans. “It’s not necessarily helping plastic pollution, it’s just changing it to make it easier for small animals to eat it,” she said. “It could be a new source of plastics for the deep ocean.” A study by Newcastle University in December last year found microplastics in the stomachs of deep-sea creatures from 11km deep trenches in the Pacific Ocean. Dawson said microplastics that had been digested by krill were also too small to be detected in most oceanic plastic surveys, meaning the level of microplastics in the ocean could be higher than currently assumed.

Coauthor So Kawaguchi, a krill biologist from the Australian Antarctic Division, where the experiments were conducted, said the krill had effectively turned microplastics into nanoplastics. “It’s a new pathway for microplastics to interact with the ecosystem, and we need to learn more about how microplastics interact with the environment,” Kawaguchi said. Microplastics are fragments of less than 5 millimeter in diameter. Krill cannot consume anything greater than 2mm in diameter. “They are not going to be able to eat a drink bottle,” Dawson said. The plastics they do consume are broken up by the animal’s gastric mill, which Dawson said functioned like a mortar and pestle. “I would assume that other planktonic crustaceans should be able to do this as well, we just haven’t seen it yet in any laboratory studies,” she said.

It is not clear whether fibrous microplastics, such as fishing line or threads from clothing, can be digested in the same manner. Fibrous microplastics made up a greater proportion of the microplastics encountered by krill in the wild, Dawson said.


03-13-2018, 05:41 AM
Maybe we should think about using a volcano. Then when it erupts we can say it had bad digestion. :tongue:

03-23-2018, 10:14 PM
The Trash Patch In The Pacific Is Many Times Bigger Than We Thought
March 22, 2018 - Between California and Hawaii, there's a teeming patch of garbage that's stretched over an area more than double the size of Texas.

We already knew it was huge. There's a reason it's called the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." But new research has found that there is many times more garbage in this patch than previously thought – 4 to 16 times more than past estimates, according to a paper published today in Nature Scientific Reports. In total, the scientists say there are about 79,000 tons of plastic in this patch. Lead researcher Laurent Lebreton, an oceanographer with The Ocean Cleanup Foundation, describes the experience of flying over the trash. "You start to see one debris, two debris, three debris and so on," he tells NPR. "Oh, there's a crate, oh, there's a buoy, oh, there's a bottle. And it's crazy because there's nothing else around. There's no land mass, there's no humans, there's nothing." Lebreton chalks up the difference between this estimate and previous ones to more advanced research methods. The team took more than 7,000 aerial photographs of the area – a method that they say is more accurate compared to previous observations from boats. "We realized by doing this that the overall stark estimate was much bigger than what we thought already," he says.

The team also trawled for samples of trash that they could analyze. More than three-quarters of the patch's mass is made of pieces of trash bigger than 5 centimeters, the researchers say, and nearly half of it was made up of fishing nets. In total, "we estimate 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating in this area," Lebreton says. Plastic items that have broken down to very small pieces – also called microplastics – are most worrying because ocean animals can ingest them, then they work their way up the food chain. It's probably not just the improved methods that account for the larger estimate, Lebreton adds. The sheer amount of plastic also appears to be increasing. That's clear when they compare the concentration of microplastics in the water. The tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 also likely played a role in adding to the amount of plastic in the patch, though it's not easy to tell where the debris is coming from. The best way to research that, he adds, is by identifying "clues, which could be like writings and logos and symbols and so on," and 30 percent of those items are coming from Japan.

Trash and assorted garbage collected from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which has up to 16 times more plastic in it than previously thought.

The patch is formed because of the Earth's rotation, which creates water circulation
around the equator that, in turn, powers clockwise currents in this area. But the researchers say that not every kind of plastic can travel all the way to the patch – it must be buoyant enough to float on the surface. The most comprehensive study of how much plastic washes into the oceans was published three years ago. Since then, scientists and environmental groups have been trying to figure out where it goes and what happens to it. Given how much plastic goes into the ocean — it's estimated to be about 8 million tons per year — Lebreton says he expected to see more of it in the gyre, as the floating plastic pancake is known. "Obviously a lot of plastic is missing and one explanation is yes, a lot of it is likely sinking on the sea bed," Lebreton says. "I think that underscores this ongoing, age-old question — where are all the missing plastics?" says Nick Mallos, the director of the Ocean Conservancy's Trash Free Seas Program. "There's a lot of pathways along the way, whether it's sinking into sediment, whether it's being ingested by marine organisms, whether it is actually being spit out onto the beaches."

He says that it's crucial to try to prevent fishing gear like nets from getting lost at sea. Part of the conservation strategy, Mallos adds, should focus on "major river arteries, coastal environments where the debris is most concentrated" — before it gets to the open ocean. "Cut off the source," Mallos says, "and then let's take care of what's still out there."


03-23-2018, 10:22 PM
Should be able to scope that crap up fairly easily.

08-07-2018, 02:20 PM
A giant floating trash collector will try to scoop up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch...
A giant floating trash collector will try to scoop up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Aug. 7, 2018 – On Sept. 8, an ungainly, 2,000-foot-long contraption will steam under the Golden Gate Bridge in what’s either a brilliant quest or a fool's errand.

Dubbed the Ocean Cleanup Project, this giant sea sieve consists of pipes that float at the surface of the water with netting below, corralling trash in the center of a U-shaped design. The purpose of this bizarre gizmo is as laudable as it is head-scratching: to collect millions of tons of garbage from what's known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which can harm and even kill whales, dolphins, seals, fish and turtles that consume it or become entangled in it, according to researchers at Britain's University of Plymouth (https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0025326X14008571). The project is the expensive, untried brainchild of a 23-year-old Dutch college dropout named Boyan Slat, who was so disgusted by the plastic waste he encountered diving off Greece as a teen that he has devoted his life to cleaning up the mess. Along with detractors who want to prioritize halting the flow of plastics into the ocean, the Dutch nonprofit gathered support from several foundations and philanthropists, including billionaire Salesforce founder Marc Benioff. In 2017, the Ocean Cleanup Project received $5.9 million in donations and reported reserves from donations in previous years of $17 million.

How it works

The Ocean Cleanup Project's passive system involves a floating series of connected pipes the length of five football fields that float at the surface of the ocean. Each closed pipe is 4 feet in diameter. Below these hang a 9-foot net skirt. The system moves more slowly than the water, allowing the currents and waves to push trash into its center to collect it. Floating particles are captured by the net while the push of water against the net propels fish and other marine life under and beyond. The system is fitted with solar-powered lights and anti-collision systems to keep any stray ships from running into it, along with cameras, sensors and satellites that allow it to communicate with its creators. For the most part the system will operate on its own, though a few engineers will remain on a nearby ship to observe. Periodically a garbage ship will be sent out to scoop up the collected trash and transport it to shore, where it will be recycled.

Misguided focus

Marine biologists who study the problem say at this point things are so bad that it’s worth a shot. “I applaud the efforts to remove plastics – clearly any piece of debris cleared from the ocean is helpful,” said Rolf Halden, a professor of environmental health engineering at Arizona State University. But he added a caveat, namely that there’s not much point to cleaning up the mess unless we also stop the tons of plastic entering the oceans each day. “If you allow the doors to be open during a sand storm while you’re vacuuming, you won’t get very far,” Halden said. And that gets at the heart of some of the criticism.

A coastal area of the Azores Islands in Portugal, is shown littered with plastic garbage. Researchers are warning of a new blight on the North Atlantic ocean: a swirl of confetti-like plastic bits, bottle caps and other refuse stretching for thousands of square miles.

Stopping plastics from making their way into the oceans "should be the focus of 95 percent of our current effort, with the remaining 5 percent on clean up," said Richard Thompson, who heads the International Marine Litter Research Unit at the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom. "If we consider cleanup to be a center stage solution, then we accept it is OK to contaminate the oceans and that our children and our children’s children will continue to clean up the mess," he said. Another concern is that the project only targets plastic pollution floating at the top of the ocean, although researchers have found microplastics from the waves all the way down to the sea floor. “They’re not all buoyant. Some sink, some remain floating at different levels based on their density and the water pressure,” said Charles Rolsky, a Ph.D. researcher who studies ocean plastic pollution at Arizona State University.

MORE (https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/science/2018/08/07/giant-floating-trash-collector-heads-pacific-garbage-patch/831803002/)