[EDIT: If you're looking for a photo of the North Pacific Trash Gyre, go here.]
The ocean is really, really big. This may be obvious, but it gets brought home especially hard if, say, one happens to be a marine biologist who kinda accidentally misplaces one’s study site and has to spend three hours swimming around underwater looking for it. Hypothetically, of course.
The Pacific is not big enough, however, to hide all the plastic crap that comes pouring off North American and Asia. Many of the broken flipflops, lost plastic bags, abandoned waterbottles, and so forth collect in the North Pacific Gyre, which is essentially a big slow gentle whirlpool. But instead of sucking the trash down, it just collects at the center, forming a floating trash heap the size of Texas.
Capt. Charles Moore accidentally sailed through the gyre a few years ago and was so shocked by vast vistas of trash that he formed the nonprofit Algalita Marine Research Foundation, based in LA. They’ve got a research cruise sailing through the gyre right now, trawling and categorizing trash – read more on their blog. Here’s a great photo of a barnacle-encrusted life jacket that they found floating by.
Read more about the North Pacific Trash Gyre:
- “Plague of Plastic Chokes the Seas”, part of the excellent & incredibly depressing LA Times series Altered Oceans.
- Jean-Michel Cousteau visited our brand-new national monument, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
- Metafilter thread with lots more links