The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Islands of Trash

North Pacific Gyre

Surely most people hadn’t realized what the Pacific Ocean has actually become over the years. Well, it just happens to be the planet's largest landfill floating in the North Pacific Ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris which is litter that ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water. No thanks to the swirling ocean currents, much of the world's trash has accumulated into this part of the Pacific Ocean. The circular motion of the gyre draws in debris which eventually makes its way into the center of the gyre, where it becomes trapped and builds up. The amount of material in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch accumulates because much of it is not biodegradable.

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Patching Up the Patch

Trash that gets washed into the ocean has serious effects on marine animals, ecosystems and humans. The ocean's currents carry trash and debris throughout the ocean, causing problems not just near the beaches, but in the deep seas as well. 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. Plastic products can be very harmful to marine life in the gyre. Debris can also disturb marine food webs in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Cleaning up marine debris is not as easy as it sounds so no nation will take responsibility or provide the funding to clean it up. Few international organizations, however, are dedicated to preventing the patch from growing any further. If you’re asking if there is any way you can help, know that it all comes down to littering.