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THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE

PATCH
By Derek Tran

INTRODUCTION
Did you know there is a garbage patch in the ocean that is twice the size of Texas? The
north pacific garbage patch is the north pacific gyre, a vortex like current in the ocean. The
northern pacific gyre is an abnormally large gyre, because it is created from the collision of
multiple currents. The current conveys debris and plastics from around the world to the epicenter
of the gyre. The waste that collaborates in the North Pacific Ocean is forms a patch garbage in
the North Pacific Ocean called the
Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The
garbage patch is estimated to be ten
feet deep and about twice the size of
Texas. The majority of the waste in
the garbage patch is microscopic,
which makes the garbage patch
nearly impossible to clean. The Great
Pacific Garbage Patch is an aeonian
problem that will never resolve
The Great Pacific garbage patch is often thought of as an
island of plastic, but in reality it is actually nearly invisible.

itself.

WHAT IS THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is considered the worlds largest sinkhole. According to
KQED, the north pacific gyre is created from the
colliding North Pacific Current, the California
Current, the North Equatorial Current, and the
Kuroshio Current (2010). Theses currents bring
waste from around the world to a concentrated
location. This creates a massive waste build up
between Japan and Hawaii. According Josh Clark

This is an arial view of the Great Pacific

the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas and estimated to be 10 feet deep
(2015). The garbage patch is a major problem, and because the oceans currents are consistently
bringing more trash into its epicenter without allowing any waste to escape; the Great Pacific
Garbage Patch will only become larger.

WHAT IS CAUSING THE ISSUE?

Why cant the garbage patch simply be cleaned up? The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
cannot be simply cleaned up, because the majority of the patch is made of microscopic debris
and plastics. According to a micro plastic and water quality research group lead by Peter G.
Ryan, plastic can only
be broken down
through photodegradation,
oxidation, and
mechanical abrasion
(2009). That means
plastic will not
disappear over time
There is a lot more plastics in the water than what is visible.

and can only be


broken down into

smaller pieces though contact with sunlight and chemical decomposition. Another research group
lead by Maggie Ostdahl detailed that humans make the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2013). All
litter that enters the garbage patch is from the human population. All the small pieces of plastic
that enter the storm drains will add to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS TO THE ENVIRONMENT?


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has a very negative impact on the environment. KQED
stated that the micro plastic in the ocean outnumber the zooplankton 1 to 6 (2010). This effect
the whole food chain because the small fish that the zooplankton will also eat the plastics and the
larger fish that eat the small fish will also be contaminated. The micro plastics in the water will
indirectly or directly affect every form of marine life. A new report from GOOD MORNING
AMERICA in 2011 stated that larger pieces of plastic could also affect marine live. Large nets

will destroy coral reefs in the ocean and could


tangle turtles, dolphins, and seals. Many
animals will also mistakenly eat the plastics.
Turtles will eat plastic bags mistaken as jellyfish
and birds may eat small pieces of plastic
floating in the water.

WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS TO


This political cartoon represents the garbage in
the water.

GLOBALLY?

The garbage patch does have an effect globally. According to Beachapedia, gyres may
sometimes split (2014). When a gyre splits, it causes maxis amount of trash to be wash up onto
beaches and shores. The brakes in the north pacific gyre
have been the cause of the majority of large trash wash
ups around the world. In a Tedx talk, Boyan Slat
explained every piece of plastic that enters the
ecosystem could damage landscape and that
approximately 300,000,000 tons of plastic enters
waterways (2012). Plastic is entering in the ecosystem
at a very high rate and overtime will only accumulate.

This is an image of a beach wash-up


caused by a break in the North Pacific
gyre.

WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS TO PERSONAL HEALTH?


The garbage patch also has significant personal health impact. According to KQED
plastic has multiple chemicals, such as PCB, DDT, and BPA, which can disturb hormones,
digestive system, and immune system (2010). These chemicals can be transfer when a human
consumes a contaminated fish. This is significant because the majority of the fish in the north
pacific region are contaminated with these chemicals. In Boyan Slats Tedx talk he also
mentioned that the plastic that washes up on the beach can be stepped on (2012). Stepping on

these small pieces of plastic could injure someones foot, and allows the harmful chemicals to
directly enter ones blood stream.

WHAT ARE CURRENT SOLUTIONS?


There Great Pacific Garbage Patch hos no
current solution to clean the microscopic plastics
that are already in the
water, but

Consuming a contaminated fish could cause


major interior problems.

Beachapedia stated that the best


solution right now is to prevent the waste from

entering the north pacific gyre (2014). The waste could be


prevented from entering by encouraging people to
recycle and to stop littering. Any plastic that enters the

This is an image of a standard trawl net. Trawl nets


were typically used to catch large schools of fish.

storm drains will directly enter a waterway, and if the water is not treated, it will have a
permanent impact. According to Peter G. Ryans research group, modified trawl nets called
ghost nets could be used to remove larger pieces of plastic in the water (2009). The problem
with these ghost nets is that it may harm the environment and could only clean the plastic
before it photo degrades.

WHAT ARE NEW SOLUTIONS?


Scientists are currently developing a new solution for the garbage patch. According to
KQED scientist are attending to create new bioplastics that are ecofriendly and can biodegrade,
dissolve overtime, without leaving any harmful chemicals (2010). The bioplastics will stop the
problem before it enters the ecosystem. The main downside with this new bioplastics is that; they
are less cost efficient and are difficult to construct. In Maggie Ostdahl article, he stated that in
order to stop the growth of the garbage patch the government needs to take the initiative and ban

the use polystyrene food containers and plastic bags. If


plastic is banned the garbage patch would no longer grow.
There is no solution to the plastic already in the water, but
there are new methods of preventing the garbage patch
from getting any larger.
This is an image of a bioplastic
biodegrading over time.

CONCLUSION
The garbage patch is created from multiple current that
bring debris from around the world to the center of the North
Pacific Ocean. A problem will never resolve itself and has
devastating impact of marine life. The Great Pacific Garbage
Patch is a problem self subsequently crated as a side effect of
plastic litter has no current solution for the plastic already in
the water, but scientist are discovering new method of
preventing the garbage patch from getting any larger.

In some states, the uses of


plastic bags are already
prohibited.

Overtime, there may be new discovering of how to contain the great Pacific Ocean and restore
marine life to its former glory.
REFERENCE PAGE
KQED (2010). Plastic in the Pacific
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=g9fEbqxyNl0

Josh Clark (2015) Where Is The Biggest Garbage Dump On Earth?


Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkfAnQtIUCw

Peter G. Ryan, CharlesJ. Moore, Jan A.van Franeker, Coleen L. Moloney (2009)
Monitoring the abundance of plastic debris in the marine environment
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2873010/

Maggie Ostdahl (2013 ) Plastic Pollution and its Solution


Retrieved from http://sailorsforthesea.org/resources/ocean-watch/plastic-pollution-and-itssolution?gclid=CjwKEAiAws20BRCs-PssLbSlg4SJABbVcDpr0lbCnqpY_1lGzsqnAi1Qw5T84Y10YUGXz7VH8A6CBoCev_w_wcB

GOOD MORNING AMERICA (2012) The Great Pacific Garbage Patch


Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtewmJ78hzw

Beachapedia (2014) Great Pacific Garbage Patch


Retrieved from http://beachapedia.org/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

[View of the pacific garbage patch] Retrieved from


https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/ce/99/14/ce9914ce142ca4b8872833554a3142eb.jpg

[Wave of trash] Retrieved form


http://i2.wp.com/savethewater.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/1.jpg
[Political cartoon] Retrieved from
http://www.cartoonistgroup.com/properties/luckovich/art_images/cg54e40d8f6525f.jpg

[Beach wash-up] Retrieved from


http://loe.org/content/2015-06-05/DEBRIS--Marine_debris_on_Hawaiian_coast.png

[Stomach problems] Retrieved from


http://www.paleolifestylemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Paleo-Digestion.jpg

[A net] Retrieved from

http://www.fao.org/docrep/008/ad794b/AD794B07.gif

[Bio degrading plastics] Retrieved from


http://greenliving4live.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/biodegradable-plastic.jpg