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The World's Biggest Landfill: The Pacific Ocean

1533 words - 7 pages

100 million tons of plastic is generated every year, and ten percent of it ends up in our oceans. Every square mile in this area hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. The world’s biggest landfill is sadly in the Pacific Ocean. Humans have been carelessly polluting the earth’s oceans for countless years with items such as plastic bags, water bottles, foam packaging, fishing nets, rope, etc. The Pacific Trash Vortex, consisting of two garbage patches, known as the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch and the Western Pacific Garbage Patch, is a place where slowly degrading trash, dead fish, birds and marine mammals all swirl around like a clock. They are held together by a 6,000-mile long current named the Subtropical Convergence Zone. The appeal of plastic use on land, its long lasting strength and durability, is what makes it so harmful to the ocean and the creatures who inhabit it. Plastic has been slowly dissolving and becoming part of the water. Some are calling the Pacific Ocean “Plastic Soup.” “Plastic waste floating in the North Pacific has increased 100-fold over the last 40 years. In the period 1972 to 1987, no micro plastic was found in the majority of samples taken for testing, said the paper in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. Today, scientists estimate the swirling mass of waste known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG) or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is roughly the size of Texas.” Pacific Plastic Soup. (n.d.). Retrieved on March 8th, 2014, from http://news.discovery.com/earth/oceans/pacific-ocean-plastic-increase-120509.htm. This is extremely dangerous for the organisms living in the water. The Pacific Trash Vortex is a major threat to the ecosystem and to marine life, and people need to be aware of the situation and work to find a solution to the problem.
This situation presents many problems, including danger to marine life and even humans, and long term effects that this trash will have on the earth. Many marine organisms will become caught in this trash vortex and choke or suffocate and die. Any kind of trash can get into the ocean—from glass bottles to aluminum cans to medical waste. The vast majority of marine debris, however, is plastic. “Scientists have collected up to 750,000 bits of plastic in a single square kilometer (or 1.9 million bits per square mile) of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Plastic products can be very harmful to marine life in the gyre. For instance, loggerhead sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, their favorite food. And many marine mammals and birds, such as albatrosses, have become strangled by the plastic rings used to hold six-packs of soda together.” Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8th, 2014, from http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch. Marine debris can also disturb marine food webs in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. As microplastics and other trash collect on the surface of the ocean,...

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