I’m going to mix it up again this week and talk about something that’s pretty gruesome.
Have you ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? If not, you’re in for an enlightening ride.
When I first learned about it, I was told it was this big island of trash that was “larger than the state of of Texas” or “three times the size of the United Kingdom!” The sad truth is, no one will never really know the size because it’s constantly growing.
You see, our Mother Earth has oceanic gyres. Gyres are these large spirals of seawater that collide with the earth’s natural currents. The largest gyre is the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG) which fills the space between Japan and California. The temperatures of the oceans are different depending on where you’re located. The closer you are the the equator the warmer the water is. Waters are always circulating so there comes a point where warm water from the South meets cooler water from the north and that’s how gyres are created. In the NPSG, when this happens, its called a convergence zone and is also a prime location for trash to collect. It is estimated that about 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean in a year.
The biggest problem with this is that most of this trash is made up of plastic. Plastic is not biodegradable. If anyone has ever told you that, they lied to your face. It slowly breaks down to tinier and tinier pieces but never fully disintegrates. Originally, I told you that it was referred to as an island of trash. This is where that misconception comes in. If it was only an island of trash, it would be really easy to clean up. We could all just go out and scoop the island up and call it a day. Since we’re dealing with micro plastics that makes things extremely difficult and will require decades upon decades of work.
We are affecting our ocean’s ecosystem big time. It affects all the wildlife that travels those waters. Here are a couple grueling examples of how:
- Microplastics look like food to not only sea life but to birds who fish as well. They eat them and end up getting obstructed or they unknowingly feed them to your young who end up dying from starvation because they’re eating plastic not actual food
- “Ghost fishing” which happens to a lot sea turtles, sea lions and whales where plastic nets are used for fishing and these animals get caught up in them and drown
- Plastic bags and pop can rings look like jellyfish to turtles and other creatures who eat them but also their heads and sometimes their bodies can get stuck in the rings and they end up growing abnormally because they’re wrapped in plastic
- Photodegradation, which is when the sun breaks down floating debris, ends up making the ocean more toxic because the colorants and chemicals are released into the waters. It also has a reversal effect where the plastics can absorb organic pollutants like BPA which has huge impact on the food chain.
I’m not trying to freak you out here but this is a pretty big deal. There are plenty of ocean crews out there who are dedicated to coming up with ocean cleanup projects every day. The best thing you, the individual can do, is make informed purchase decisions such as, buying BPA free, biodegradable, reusuable items, recycling any and all plastics or repurpose those plastics into a different type of use. Every little bit truly counts.
For more information feel free to Google it. You’ll find a ton of pages. My main source today was from here.