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The Floating Toxic Garbage Island

Posted by feww on April 10, 2008

WILD FACTS SERIES: North Pacific Gyre

A patch of garbage dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch floats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in North Pacific Gyre. Depending on the source, the size estimate of the patch varies from the size of Texas to twice as large as the continental United States.

  • About 46,000 pieces of plastic float on each square mile of sea (Source:
  • Researcher Dr Marcus Eriksen believes the Great Pacific Garbage Patch stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the coast of California, across the Northern Pacific to near the coast of Japan.
  • According to the Independent newspaper 100 million tons of plastic garbage float in the North Pacific Gyre.

The North Pacific Gyre (top, center)is one of five major oceanic gyres. (Image Credit: NOAA)

Following are links to a series of short videos by VBS.TV.

Marine debris on the Hawaiian coast (Image Credit: NOAA)

Related Links:

An Interesting animation of how the garbage entering the ocean is caught by the gyre.


9 Responses to “The Floating Toxic Garbage Island”

  1. feww said

    Scientists study huge plastic patch in Pacific
    Tue Aug 4, 2009 8:42am EDT
    By Steve Gorman

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Marine scientists from California are venturing this week to the middle of the North Pacific for a study of plastic debris accumulating across hundreds of miles (km) of open sea dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

    A research vessel carrying a team of about 30 researchers, technicians and crew members embarked on Sunday on a three-week voyage from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, based at the University of California at San Diego.

    The expedition will study how much debris — mostly tiny plastic fragments — is collecting in an expanse of sea known as the North Pacific Ocean Gyre, how that material is distributed and how it affects marine life.

    The debris ends up concentrated by circular, clockwise ocean currents within an oblong-shaped “convergence zone” hundreds of miles (km) across from end to end near the Hawaiian Islands, about midway between Japan and the West Coast of the United States.

    The focus of the study will be on plankton, other microorganisms, small fish and birds.

    “The concern is what kind of impact those plastic bits are having on the small critters on the low end of the ocean food chain,” Bob Knox, deputy director of research at Scripps, said on Monday after the ship had spent its first full day at sea.

    The 170-foot vessel New Horizon is equipped with a laboratory for on-board research, but scientists also will bring back samples for further study.

    Little is known about the exact size and scope of the vast debris field discovered some years ago by fishermen and others in the North Pacific that is widely referred to as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

    Large items readily visible from the deck of a boat are few and far between. Most of the debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the water surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite images.

    The debris zone shifts by as much as a thousand miles north and south on a seasonal basis, and drifts even farther south during periods of warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures known as El Nino, according to information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Besides the potential harm to sea life caused by ingesting bits of plastic, the expedition team will look at whether the particles could carry other pollutants, such as pesticides, far out to sea, and whether tiny organisms attached to the debris could be transported to distant regions and thus become invasive species.

    (Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Will Dunham)

    © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

  2. feww said

    Andrea – thanks for your concern and the link. Will post any information as it becomes available.

    The polluting of our oceans is an ongoing legacy. The “cure” would only work if accompanied by prevention!

  3. Andrea said

    Does anyone know what groups are doing anything about this? Please – let’s list who is going to clean this up and begin to help/donate to those groups. Here’s one that’s getting started – I don’t know who else, but please post links so that we can all do are part to clean this up.

  4. […] don’t forget about this Jump to Comments The floating trash island in the pacific that weighs 3.5 million tons of which 80% are DISPOSABLE PLASTIC BAGS. […]

  5. Eisenhower said

    [Edited by Moderator: FEWW]

    Moderators invite intelligent comments!

  6. […] Comments North Pacific Gyre … on Oceans, Where Life Started, Ar…feww on North Pacific GyreNorth Pacific Gyre […]

  7. feww said


  8. neath said


  9. […] North Pacific Gyre (Links to videos) […]

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