Yesterday, my friend shared a 4 minute video with me. I was stunned. About three years ago he brought “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” to my attention, which he’s been monitoring for some time now. Ever heard of it? I’ll wager very few are aware of this man-made island of floating garbage.
I did some research and learned that this massive glob was predicted in 1988 and published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), based on measurements taken of neustonic plastic in the North Pacific Ocean. The Garbage Patch is located within the North Pacific Gyre, one of the five major oceanic gyres.
Researchers predict that this accumulation of man-made waste, primarily plastic, will make its way to other parts of the Pacific where prevailing currents are favorable. As the garbage is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the center, trapping it in the region. Most of the debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the surface, but larger pieces of plastic are trapped within the smaller particles.
Just how big is this floating island of lethal waste? It’s difficult to know at this point. Some reports estimate it to be up to twice the size of the continental United States, while research sponsored by the National Science Foundation suggests the affected area may be around twice the size of Hawaii. Regardless as to which reports provided the closet estimates, it’s had a devastating effect on wildlife.
Long-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals, and their young, including sea turtles and the Black-footed Albatross. Midway Atoll receives substantial amounts of marine debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Of the 1.5 million Laysan Albatrosses that inhabit Midway, nearly all are found to have plastic in their digestive system. Approximately one-third of the chicks die mostly due to being fed plastic from their parents. Source
Research shows that this plastic marine debris affects at least 267 species worldwide, which brings me to the video. It features Midway Atoll, a cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.
“Until my ghastly tale is told, this heart within me burns.” ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge