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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Ocean Pollution Challenge



  Jan 24, 2024

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch



Understanding the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a significant environmental concern, comprising a vast expanse of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. This patch, often misunderstood, presents several key aspects:

Composition and Location:

The patch spans from the West Coast of North America to Japan.
It consists of the Western Garbage Patch (near Japan) and the Eastern Garbage Patch (between Hawai'i and California).
Linked by the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, debris moves between the two patches.

Formation:

Bounded by the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, formed by four major currents.
The central area of the gyre is calm, trapping debris in a stable zone.

Nature of Debris:

Dominated by microplastics, not always visible to the naked eye.
Larger items like fishing gear also contribute to the patch.
Approximately 70% of marine debris sinks to the ocean floor.

Discovery:

Discovered by Charles Moore, a racing boat captain, in the late 1990s. Source of Debris:

About 80% of the plastic comes from land-based sources; the rest is from marine sources.
Synthetic fishing nets form a significant part of the debris.

Environmental Impact:

Harmful to marine life, leading to ingestion and entanglement.
Disrupts marine food webs by blocking sunlight necessary for plankton and algae.
Leaches and absorbs harmful pollutants.

Challenges in Cleanup:

The vast size and dispersed nature of the patch make cleanup efforts extremely challenging.
Charles Moore emphasizes the prohibitive cost of such an endeavor.

Mitigation Efforts:

Focus on reducing the use of disposable plastics and promoting biodegradable materials.
Organizations like the Plastic Pollution Coalition and Plastic Oceans Foundation advocate for sustainable practices.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch highlights the critical need for global action to address plastic pollution and protect marine ecosystems.

SRIRAM’s


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