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How Has The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Affected Marine Life In The Surrounding Waters?

1724 words - 7 pages

Recently, it has been said that an eighth continent has formed, but this is no ordinary landmass, instead it is made entirely out of manmade trash. In the Pacific Ocean, between the coast of California and the Hawaiian Islands, lies a so-called “patch” of waste, mainly consisting of plastic (Transoceanic Trash). It is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex. The patch extends over a vast area in the North Pacific Ocean, its true size today is still considered undetermined because it estimates vary greatly, no estimates are exact due to the changing wind and ocean currents, as well as the growing volume of debris (Great Pacific Garbage Patch). The trash that makes up this mass, comes from all over the world, garbage has been found from Russia, China and Korea (Transoceanic Trash). This immense trash pile has no right to be polluting the oceans and harming the wildlife and must be addressed.
This disastrous build up of garbage did not happen overnight and was not a surprise; many oceanographers and climatologists had predicted the formation of this Great Pacific Garbage Patch would form. Research regarding this topic of concern started as early as 1985, when high concentrations of neustonic plastic were recorded in the North Pacific Ocean (The Quantitative Distribution and Characteristics). It has been said the actual physical discovery of the patch was by a racing boat captain, Charles Moore, who was crossing this area when sailing from Hawaii to California when he found himself surrounded by bits of plastic (Biography of Captain Charles). From a bird’s eye view or simply just viewing the “patch” with the naked eye, the litter is almost impossible to see. It is made up of extremely small pieces of plastic, which are called microplastics, as well as much of the trash is submerged underneath the surface (Great Pacific Garbage Patch). Without the blatantly obvious mounds of trash, as one would think to see, it makes it increasingly harder for the populations to take action against the further pollution.
So how exactly does all of this waste from all over the world end up in this one specific part of the ocean? This is because the Great Pacific Garbage Patch lies within a high-pressure area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (Great Pacific Garbage Patch). This specific part of the ocean is called the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, also known as the horse latitudes, and a gyre is a name for a circular clockwise ocean current ("Quantitation of persistent organic"). Gyres are formed from the wind patterns and the rotation of the Earth; this circular motion has the ability to draw debris into the relatively calm and stable center of the gyre (Great Pacific Garbage Patch). These rotational patterns tend to draw off waste from both the North Pacific Ocean as well as off North American and Japan coastal waters (Great Pacific Garbage Patch). Once the debris has made its way into the center, there is a high...

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